Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), came out to explain the confusion that arose after the agency issued new guidelines on how vaccinated people should behave.
The guidelines allowed fully vaccinated individuals not to wear their masks both outdoors and indoors, except for situations in which mask-wearing is universally required by federal, state, or local legislation.
In an interview with ABC, Walensky stressed that new instructions should not be viewed as permission for a face mask removal that would be ‘widespread’ in nature and potentially involve unvaccinated people.
The CDC director said that the guidelines were meant to explain the individual risks carried on by unvaccinated people.
She emphasized that only vaccinated people could be regarded as safe, adding that others should either obey mask-wearing mandates or opt for vaccination as a better alternative.
Walensky was clear that concrete mask mandate decisions should be made at a local level.
She pointed out that this way of thinking is warranted because different communities had been hit differently and might have varying vaccination rates.
The CDC director underscored that the approach of her organization is to address both individuals and communities.
Walensky expressed her confidence that such an approach warrants differential guidelines for unvaccinated, as opposed to vaccinated people.
‘State of the Union’ appearance
Walensky also took part in CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ where she stressed that the implementation of the new CDC guidelines would be ‘a slow process’ that would not take hold in different parts of the U.S. at the same time.
She reiterated that this discrepancy would come as a result of varying numbers of newly identified cases and vaccinated individuals across the U.S.
Walensky also said that she wanted to assure working people that they can safely come to their jobs if they are vaccinated.
She also encouraged the employers to guarantee a paid leave for the days of their employees’ vaccination.
The CDC director concluded that she understands that it would take a lot of hard work to clarify the new guidelines.
She pointed out that it might be particularly exhausting to explain how individuals should behave in various settings, ranging from schools and child care settings to retail shops and travel.