No more masks? 

Signs instruct visitors on the proper way to wear masks
Signs instruct visitors on the proper way to wear masks at the Universal City Walk on May 14 in Universal City, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP

People were caught off guard when the normally cautious Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in mid-May that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to maintain social distance or wear masks in most indoor environments. 

Since then, epidemiologists, public health leaders and government officials have grappled with the new guidance. In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz rescinded the mask mandate for those who are vaccinated a day after the CDC’s announcement. 

Those unvaccinated are still strongly encouraged to wear masks in public and to keep distancing while indoors. But determining who is vaccinated and who isn’t is based on the honor system. With just over 50 percent of Minnesotans 16 and older fully vaccinated, critics say lifting the mask mandate in May is too much, too soon.

Monday, host Kerri Miller got answers to some of the questions surrounding this unexpectedly quick change. Why did the CDC make such an abrupt shift, and why now?

Guests:

  • Dr. Leana Wen is an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. She’s a contributing columnist for The Washington Post and a CNN medical analyst. 

  • Dr. Robert Wachter is the chair of the UC San Francisco Department of Medicine. He recently filled in as host on In the Bubble, a podcast dedicated to covering pandemic science. 

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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