Any mandates in the U.S. to require people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be set at the local level by companies and institutions such as colleges, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
“It may very well be that local businesses, local jurisdictions, will work towards vaccine mandates,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That is going to be locally driven and not federally driven.”
Separately, on “Fox News Sunday,” Walensky cited colleges or universities that may enforce vaccine mandates for students, and that the cruise ship industry may also consider it for people about to embark on multiday journeys at sea.
Walensky spoke days after the CDC announced that Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 were clear to shed their face masks in public at most times.
The move has created confusion about who should continue to wear masks and who, if anyone, should police Americans’ vaccination status if they’re unmasked in certain settings.
“I think that’s really going to have to be industry-by-industry,” Walensky said on Fox about private businesses potentially asking for proof of vaccines. “I can also see how difficult it might be.”
Walmart Inc. announced Friday that fully vaccinated staff and customers can leave their masks at home. Starbucks Corp. also dropped mask requirements for vaccinated customers, while staff will continue to be required to wear facial coverings.
“This was not permission to shed masks for everybody, everywhere,” Walensky said on NBC. “This was really science-driven individual assessment of your risk.”
Governors in many states moved quickly to drop mask mandates for vaccinated people specifically. Others lifted the mandates completely, while issuing strong recommendations to those not vaccinated to continue to wear masks and get immunized.
In President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware, Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, said Friday that effective May 21 the state will embrace CDC guidelines so that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most indoor and outdoor settings.
Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan announced the end of a statewide mask mandate starting Saturday, aligning his state with the new CDC guidance.
Hogan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he doesn’t think businesses will ask people to show vaccination cards.
“The governors of states have to actually operationalize it,” Hogan said of the CDC guidance, terming that effort “very hard.”
“There’s no way to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people from a legal requirement basis,” he said.
Walensky on Fox said the decision to shed a face mask was based on “the honor system.”
“If you are not vaccinated, you are not safe. Please go get vaccinated or continue to wear your mask,” she said. “The vaccine is now available to over 90% of Americans within five miles.”