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CDC releases highly anticipated guidance for people fully vaccinated against Covid-19

The CDC has released new guidelines saying that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can safely visit other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances, while still maintaining important safety precautions. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen tells us more.

Posted: Mar 8, 2021 2:25 PM
Updated: Mar 8, 2021 2:46 PM


New guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can safely visit with other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances, but there are still important safety precautions needed.

"Covid-19 continues to exert a tremendous toll on our nation. Like you, I want to be able to return to everyday activities and engage with our friends, families, and communities," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the White House briefing Monday. "Science, and the protection of public health must guide us as we begin to resume these activities. Today's action represents an important first step. It is not our final destination."

"As more people get vaccinated, levels of Covid-19 infection decline in communities, and as our understanding of Covid immunity improves, we look forward to updating these recommendations to the public."

The CDC defines people who are fully vaccinated as those who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines or two weeks past a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There is growing evidence that people who are vaccinated don't spread Covid-19, but scientists are still trying to understand how long vaccine protection lasts.

"The level of precautions taken should be determined by the characteristics of the unvaccinated people, who remain unprotected against Covid-19," the guidelines said.

The new CDC guidance says fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing

  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or physical distancing, if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease.

  • Skip quarantine and testing if exposed to someone who has Covid-19 but are asymptomatic, but should monitor for symptoms for 14 days

This means that vaccinated grandparents may finally feel comfortable visiting their unvaccinated grandchildren and giving them a big hug, especially if they're local -- the CDC still says people should avoid travel -- and as long as none of the unvaccinated people in that household are at risk for severe Covid-19.

And if you and a friend are both vaccinated, you can finally have dinner together.

However, people who are fully vaccinated still need to take precautions in many scenarios. The guidelines say fully vaccinated people must:

  • Wear a mask and keep good physical distance around the unvaccinated who are at increased risk for severe Covid-19, or if the unvaccinated person has a household member who is at higher risk

  • Wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated people who are from multiple households.

In addition, fully vaccinated people should continue basic safety precautions, including: wearing a mask that fits well and keeping physical distance in public; avoiding medium- and large-sized crowds; avoiding poorly ventilated public spaces; washing hands frequently; and getting tested for Covid-19 if they feel sick.

So, the vaccinated can't yet throw a big end-of-the-pandemic party or hang out over cocktails at a crowded bar.

Keep wearing that mask at the grocery store and if your neighborhood holds an in-person meeting, don't go hugging those you haven't seen in a while.

If fully vaccinated people live in a non-health care congregate setting, such as a group home or detention facility, they should quarantine for 14 days and get tested if exposed to someone with a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 case.

The guidelines say that the risk of infection in social activities like going to the gym or restaurant is lower for the fully vaccinated. However, people should still take precautions, as transmission risk in these settings is higher and increases the more unvaccinated people are involved. So wear that mask on the treadmill, and if dining out, keep it on while waiting for your meal

No change to CDC travel guidance

In the new guidance, the CDC notes its travel recommendations have not changed: The CDC says people should delay travel and stay home.

Walensky said CDC travel guidelines will remain the same for the vaccinated until there is more data about how much or how little vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others. She added that a "larger swath" of the population will also need to be vaccinated before it's really safe.

About 90% of the country is still not vaccinated, Walensky said. Travel brings too much exposure to crowds and the spread of variants is also a real concern.

"Every time there's a surge in travel, we have a surge of cases in this country," Walensky said.

"We're hopeful that our next set of guidance, will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them."

Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said he hopes the country sees the announcement of new guidelines as a "hopeful day."

"We are here in no small measure because of the safety protection that many, many Americans have taken with regard to their family, friends and neighbors," Zients said. "We ask people to continue to do that so we can get there, as quickly and as permanently as possible."

There are now 30 million people in the United States who are fully vaccinated, but the United States still averaged more than 60,000 cases per day over the last seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University.

"We continue to have high levels of virus around the country, and more readily transmissible variants have now been confirmed in nearly every state, while we work to quickly vaccinate people more and more each day, we have to see this through," Walensky said Monday. "Let's stick together. Please keep wearing a well fitting mask and taking the other public health actions we know work to help stop the spread of this virus."

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1389443

Reported Deaths: 25592
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook55642910467
DuPage924131318
Will769631033
Lake683861018
Kane59457808
Winnebago34140507
Madison30959526
McHenry29200295
St. Clair28348519
Peoria23455343
Champaign21112155
Sangamon19103240
McLean18560188
Tazewell17232305
Rock Island15247329
Kankakee14562217
Kendall1328599
LaSalle12789250
Macon10998211
DeKalb10123121
Vermilion10035143
Adams8694127
Williamson7609134
Whiteside7199174
Boone683878
Ogle621183
Grundy598778
Clinton578991
Coles5774100
Knox5647154
Jackson510165
Henry507970
Livingston489991
Woodford484482
Stephenson482785
Macoupin478388
Effingham476972
Franklin454278
Marion4515117
Jefferson4424122
Monroe438694
Lee419354
Randolph416587
Fulton405359
Logan398364
Morgan393482
Christian383975
Montgomery379374
Bureau378484
Fayette322955
Perry320360
Iroquois314167
McDonough291051
Jersey271752
Douglas260736
Saline260457
Lawrence241127
Shelby232838
Union228241
Crawford214525
Bond208724
Cass203527
Ford189048
Warren184349
Clark183933
Jo Daviess182724
Pike182153
Wayne181253
Hancock180931
Carroll178537
Edgar177040
Richland176940
White170626
Washington164825
Moultrie163128
De Witt157229
Mason154245
Piatt152414
Clay149743
Mercer149334
Johnson148116
Greene145234
Massac135940
Wabash135612
Cumberland130219
Menard125012
Jasper116718
Marshall108119
Hamilton84116
Schuyler7817
Brown7326
Pulaski7007
Stark64824
Edwards57712
Calhoun5302
Henderson52814
Scott4891
Putnam4863
Alexander47411
Gallatin4704
Hardin39112
Pope3284
Unassigned512433
Out of IL350

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 751526

Reported Deaths: 13799
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033281788
Lake557151010
Allen41710692
St. Joseph36998565
Hamilton36604417
Elkhart29413461
Tippecanoe22914227
Vanderburgh22559400
Porter19359326
Johnson18477389
Hendricks17689317
Clark13228195
Madison13158344
Vigo12625253
LaPorte12420221
Monroe12211176
Delaware10968198
Howard10337225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8577147
Bartholomew8172157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7812180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6972103
Morgan6765141
Dubois6221118
Marshall6211116
Cass6017110
Henry5902110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509176
Shelby501796
Lawrence4745122
Gibson445094
Clinton442755
Harrison441775
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438490
Whitley406643
Huntington403181
Steuben400259
Miami395269
Jasper388654
Knox376391
Putnam373260
Wabash362383
Ripley347270
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332253
Daviess3033100
Wells295381
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273172
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246136
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234631
Starke228058
Fountain221048
Sullivan214643
Owen212158
Fulton203042
Jay200932
Carroll193720
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166446
Parke149616
Pike138134
Blackford136232
Pulaski120747
Newton114336
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101914
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420