Any mandates in the U.S. to require people to be vaccinated against covid-19 will be set locally, not federally, 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.”
Walensky spoke in four Sunday-morning interviews, days after the CDC announced that Americans vaccinated against covid-19 were clear to shed their face masks at most times.
The decision was kept under wraps among a small circle of top White House aides last week as they began making arrangements for the president to address the watershed moment on Thursday.
The move has created confusion, though, about who should continue to wear masks and who should be responsible for checking on peoples’ vaccination status if they’re unmasked in certain settings, like retail stores.
Walmart Inc. announced Friday that fully vaccinated staff and customers can leave their masks at home, and Starbucks Corp. also dropped mask requirements for vaccinated customers.
“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 late last week to drop mask mandates for vaccinated people. Others lifted the mandates completely, 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 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 Gov. Larry Hogan announced the end of the statewide mask mandate starting Saturday, aligning Maryland 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.
“We’re giving the businesses the flexibility to do what they think is right,” he said. “They have the right to take actions, just like telling people, no shirt, no shoes, no service.”
On “Fox News Sunday” Walensky said the decision to shed a face mask was based on “the honor system.” She didn’t, though, rule out the need for proof of vaccination at the local level at some point.
“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.”