Biden expected to announce updated mask guidance on Tuesday
President Biden is expected to announce on Tuesday updated guidance on masking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two sources confirmed to The Hill.
The guidance is still being finalized, according to multiple sources, but is likely to ease recommendations that Americans wear masks even while outdoors. Biden is expected to outline the changes in a speech on Tuesday more broadly addressing where the country stands in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
CNN reported the announcement will focus on whether vaccinated people need to wear masks when outdoors.
The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.
Biden upon taking office in January issued an order calling for Americans to wear masks on federal land and on public transportation for the first 100 days of his presidency.
With Biden set to hit his 100th day in office later this week and after millions of Americans having been vaccinated, experts argue a shift in messaging on masks could help the country ease back to normal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said she would not preempt any announcement from the CDC.
“We will certainly leave it to the CDC to announce their guidance,” she said.
Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top medical adviser and the government’s leading infectious diseases expert, hinted in an interview Sunday that updated guidance on masks was in the works.
“I think it’s pretty common sense now that outdoor risk is really, really quite low, particularly — I mean, if you are a vaccinated person, wearing a mask outdoors, I mean, obviously, the risk is minuscule,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“What I believe you’re going to be hearing, what the country is going to be hearing soon is updated guidelines from the CDC,” he added. “The CDC is a science-based organization. They don’t want to make any guidelines unless they look at the data, and the data backs it up.”
Studies have consistently found the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is significantly reduced when outdoors, particularly when individuals are socially distanced. Experts have increasingly questioned the need for mask use outdoors given the rising percentage of Americans who are vaccinated against the virus.
Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia are among several states that have some type of mandate requiring residents to wear masks when outdoors.
Multiple sources wondered if the loosening of masking guidance will make much difference in the immediate future, with one suggesting it may be “too little too late.” A handful of states have already lifted mask mandates, and some Americans have already stopped wearing masks outdoors as the weather warms.
-Updated 1:57 p.m.