Vaccinated Americans don't need a mask most of the time, CDC says

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 10:25 PM ET, Thu May 13, 2021
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2:56 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Denmark will burn millions of mink culled over Covid-19 concerns and excavated from mass graves

From CNN’s Antonia Mortensen and Lindsay Isaac

Buried mink are excavated during a trial excavation at a military area close to Norre Felding, Holstebro, in Denmark, on May 13.
Buried mink are excavated during a trial excavation at a military area close to Norre Felding, Holstebro, in Denmark, on May 13. Mikkel Berg Pedersen/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

Denmark plans to burn millions of dead mink that have been excavated from mass graves over concerns the carcasses could pollute nearby waterbeds, Danish state broadcaster TV2 reports.

Around four million mink were culled in the autumn and buried in military grounds over concerns the animals could spread Covid-19 after the virus was found on more than 200 mink farms.  

Subsequently, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency said that nearby watersheds could be polluted by the mass graves. After six months in the ground, authorities expect the carcasses no longer pose a risk of infection of the virus. Excavated mink from graves in Jutland will go to 13 incineration plants throughout Denmark later this month and the last mink is expected to be burned in mid-July. 

One plant is carrying out test incinerations on what they say is an “unusual task” in order to check the “process,” to see how “easily the waste burns” and also to determine the best way to handle the carcasses.” 

In a statement, the Maabjerg Energy Center said the waste “consists of a mixture of soil, mink and lime, and we do not yet know the exact composition. Therefore, we also do not know how easily the waste burns.” 

Some Danes have expressed concern about the potential odor, which the Maabjerg Energy Center says could be a problem especially during transporting and unloading the mink.

“We have updated the extraction system, so we are as prepared as possible. The actual combustion and smoke from the plant will not smell, as the high temperatures in the combustion process neutralize odours,” it says. 

2:42 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

UK cases of the variant first identified in India more than double in a week

From CNN's Arnaud Siad and Lindsay Isaac

UK cases of the Covid-19 variant first detected in India have risen from 520 to 1,313 cases this week, according to Public Health England (PHE).  

Health authorities say they plan to implement “additional control measures,” including rapid testing and tracing, in areas where there is increased spread.

The Indian variant was named a "variant of concern" by the UK last week after a rise in cases. The variant has spread most across the North West and in London, where measures such as mobile testing, door-to-door testing and vaccine buses, PHE said in a statement on Thursday. 

“We need to act collectively and responsibly to ensure that variants do not impact on the progress we have all made to drive down levels of Covid-19 and the increased freedom that brings,” said Dr. Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 strategic response director at PHE.

England enters phase two of its plan to lift restrictions on Monday, under which indoor dining will reopen.

2:44 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Vaccinated Americans who still want to wear masks shouldn't be criticized, Fauci says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Pool
Pool

There's nothing wrong with vaccinated people who still want to wear masks, despite the updated guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

"People have to make their own personal choice. What you heard from [CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky] is the recommendation based on science, and that's just a recommendation. And when people want to do that, they at least have the science behind them," said Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to President Biden.

"There are those people who don't want to take that bit of a risk, and there's nothing wrong with that, and they shouldn't be criticized," he added.

Walensky agreed, saying that "people have to make these decisions based on their own comfort." 

"As a rule, we are anti-side-eyeing," Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 response team, said.

2:35 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Masks are still required for now when traveling, CDC director says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

People walk through Chicago O’Hare airport on April 26 in Chicago.
People walk through Chicago O’Hare airport on April 26 in Chicago. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Travelers will still have to wear masks while on public transportation, the director of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Right now, we still have the requirement to wear masks when you travel on buses, trains and other forms of public transportation ... as well as airports and stations," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

In April, the Transportation Security Administration's mask mandate for all travelers in airports, airplanes, terminals, trains, buses and boats was extended until Sept. 13.

The CDC will continue to update guidance, she said.

2:30 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

CDC director to unvaccinated Americans: Keep your masks on

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterated that unvaccinated Americans should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing, encouraging them to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"The science is also very clear about unvaccinated people. You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or spreading the disease to others. You should still mask, and you should get vaccinated right away," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

Walensky added that if Covid-19 conditions worsen in the US, today's new mask guidance for fully vaccinated people could be rolled back.

"We know that the more people are vaccinated, the less cases we will have and the less chance of a new spike or additional variants emerging," she said.

2:26 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

CDC says fully vaccinated people can take off their masks indoors and outdoors

From CNN’s John Bonifield and Elizabeth Cohen

Pool
Pool

Calling it “an exciting and powerful moment,” the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under special circumstances.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

She said the science supports the new recommendation that “anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small – without wearing a mask or physically distancing.”

Walensky’s announcement has a few caveats. She warned that people who are immune compromised should speak with their doctors before giving up their masks.

She also said that “the past year has shown us that this virus can be unpredictable, so if things get worse, there is always a chance we may need to make change to the recommendations.” 

1:58 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

CDC expected to issue new guidance on indoor mask-wearing for vaccinated people

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Sylvia March gets a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccination from a health care worker at Miami International Airport on May 10 in Miami.
Sylvia March gets a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccination from a health care worker at Miami International Airport on May 10 in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue new guidance on indoors mask-wearing for vaccinated people, according to a source familiar with the plans. 

Earlier this week, officials said they were not anticipating the CDC to issue new guidance for fully vaccinated people this week.

But the CDC is now expected to cite new studies about how vaccinated people should or should not take precautions.  

The new guidance comes as top federal health officials have been under increasing pressure from lawmakers and public health experts to adjust the agency's conservative guidance. Governors pleaded with President Biden earlier this week to model the perks of getting vaccinated. 

1:05 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected Hispanic adults, research finds

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an outsized effect on Hispanic adults when compared to Black and White adults, according to research published Thursday from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Among those surveyed, Hispanic adults were more likely than either Black adults or White adults to say they or someone in their household has tested positive for Covid-19 or that a family member or close friend has died from Covid-19.

More than two-thirds of Hispanic adults reported they were worried that they or someone in their family would get sick from Covid-19. This number rose to 89% in potentially undocumented Hispanic adults.

Data were collected from interviews with 778 Hispanic adults as part of KFF’s ongoing Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor.

Hispanic adults also expressed a greater desire to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Just under half of Hispanic adults surveyed had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, compared to 51% of Black adults and 60% of White adults.

Of those who had not yet begun vaccination, 17% of Hispanic adults said they wanted to get a vaccine as soon as possible — more than the percentage for either Black or White adults. Hispanic adults had the smallest percentage of any group who said they would “definitely not” receive a vaccine.

A majority of unvaccinated Hispanic adults were concerned about missing work due to vaccine side-effects, and more than half were worried about paying for the vaccine, although the Covid-19 vaccines are all being provided at no cost to recipients.

Researchers said vaccination gaps in Hispanic communities may be driven by concerns like this and by documentation barriers. More than 40% of Hispanic adults were asked to provide government identification when making an appointment, 32% were asked for health insurance information, and 14% were asked for a social security number.

“While the vaccines are available to all adults regardless of their insurance or immigration status, many Hispanic adults who have been vaccinated say they were asked for their health insurance information or a government-issued ID,” said Samantha Artiga, a KFF vice president and director of the racial equity and health policy program. “That can pose barriers for many, particularly those who are uninsured or are potentially undocumented immigrants.”

Hispanic adults who were younger, less educated, or Republican reported the greatest amount of vaccine hesitancy, with 15% of Republican Hispanic adults saying they would “definitely not” receive an available vaccine.

1:27 p.m. ET, May 13, 2021

Racial and ethnic disparities in Covid-19 vaccination persist, CDC data shows

From CNN’s Deidre McPhillips

A healthcare worker prepares a syringe with a vial of the J&J/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination site at Grand Central Terminal train station on May 12 in New York City.
A healthcare worker prepares a syringe with a vial of the J&J/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination site at Grand Central Terminal train station on May 12 in New York City. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Black, Hispanic and Asian people are still not getting vaccinated at the same rates as White people, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. 

CDC data shows these groups represent a smaller share of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 than their share of the US population overall.

Black people account for 8.5% of those fully vaccinated, but 12.4% of the total US population, and Hispanic people represent 11% of those fully vaccinated, although they make up 17% of the US population. The gap among Asian people is smaller, accounting for 5.3% of those fully vaccinated compared to 5.8% of the population. 

But non-Hispanic White people are notably overrepresented among those fully vaccinated. White people make up 61.2% of the US population, but 65.8% of those fully vaccinated. American Indian and Alaska Native people are also slightly overrepresented among those fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. 

This data is notably incomplete – race and ethnicity is known for less than two-thirds of people who are fully vaccinated – but the disparities have persisted. 

A month ago, vaccination coverage among White people was more than double that among Hispanic people and more than 75% higher than among Black people. That gap has started to close, but as of Wednesday, CDC data shows that the share of White people who are fully vaccinated is still about 66% higher than the share of Hispanic people who are fully vaccinated and 56% higher than the share of Black people who are fully vaccinated. 

Over the past two weeks, Hispanic people have been overrepresented in the share of people initiating vaccination, helping to close that gap. But Black people remain underrepresented, accounting for only about one in 10 people getting a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.