Local health experts react to CDC's new outdoor mask guidance

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Posted at 6:23 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 12:26:23-04

People who are fully vaccinated in the U.S. can now follownew guidanceon outdoor mask usage. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are fully vaccinated can ditch their face masks when they are outdoors in certain circumstances.

The CDC cites the risk of contracting COVID-19 outdoors compared to indoor settings as minimal.

"Part of that is what's driving the CDC's announcement today in lowering the requirements or restrictions for vaccinated individuals who are outdoors,” said Dr. Scott Robertson, Dignity Health Chief Medical Officer.

Science shows that people participating in events like being in a group setting with other fully vaccinated people or even dining outside with friends and household members pose a minimal risk if you are vaccinated vs. being un-vaccinated.

"Because the virus particles disburse so readily there's not enough concentration for people to get infected outside, especially if you are in small groups or doing independent activities like jogging, running that type of thing,” said Stephen Szabo, Director of Cardiopulmonary/Respiratory Services at Tenet Health.

In response to the CDC's announcement, California Gov. Gavin Newsom stated in part, "After reviewing the CDC's masking recommendations, and with science and data as our guide, we are moving to align California's guidance with these common-sense updates."

Some people say they would still prefer to keep their masks on.

"I'd still wear the mask to be on the safe side even though you have immunity with the vaccination but not 100%,” resident Jerry Salazar said.

Local health experts say it's not surprising that people might still feel more comfortable wearing face coverings outdoors.

"It's really based upon the individual. I think if folks feel like they have a certain level of comfort and a certain level of safety they will continue to wear a mask, then it's okay to do so. I think we are going to see some level of mask-wearing in public settings,” Dr. Robertson said.

On the Central Coast as of last Friday, San Luis Obispo County health officials said there were nearly 58,000 people fully vaccinated and nearly 29,000 people partially vaccinated.

In Santa Barbara County, health officials provide their statistics by percentages. They say 28 percent of people in the county are fully vaccinated.

The County of Santa Barbara has administered more than 300,000 vaccine doses.