Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers

Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers
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Today: More real-world evidence shows the mRNA vaccines work really well. States have been lifting mask mandates following CDC's updated guidance, and the agency's eviction freeze will remain intact pending appeal.

We’ll start with the end to several mask mandates:

States begin lifting mask mandates following updated CDC guidance

States are beginning to scrap their mask mandates after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance on Thursday saying vaccinated Americans can go without masks in most settings.

Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Kentucky immediately adopted the CDC guidance.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said on Twitter that he is revising his executive orders to lift additional mitigation for vaccinated people.

“I firmly believe in following the science and will revise my executive orders in line with @CDCgov guidelines lifting additional mitigations for vaccinated people,” Pritzker tweeted. “The scientists’ message is clear: if you are vaccinated, you can safely do much more”


Minnesota Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzMinnesota offering state fair tickets, fishing licenses to promote coronavirus vaccines Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers Minnesota House votes to legalize marijuana MORE (D) said that the statewide mask mandate in his state was coming to an end on Friday, but local businesses and jurisdictions would still be able to require masks.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said that beginning on May 19, outdoor masking would no longer be required and indoor masking for fully vaccinated residents would not be required. However, the governor is still requiring indoor masks for those that are unvaccinated.

On Friday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said the statewide indoor mask mandate would end May 15. Just two days ago, Hogan said he intended to lift the mandate by Memorial Day weekend, when 70 percent of residents had at least one vaccine dose. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) similarly lifted the mandate, but D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserOvernight Health Care: Medicaid enrollment reaches new high | White House gives allocation plan for 55M doses | Schumer backs dental, vision, hearing in Medicare DC to offer gift cards to those getting first COVID-19 shot White House to host large outdoor gathering for July 4 MORE (D) has yet to act. 

Read more here.


Businesses start lifting mask requirements

Businesses have also started responding to the new CDC guidance, with Walmart saying Friday that it will no longer require customers and employees to wear face masks inside its stores if they are fully vaccinated.

Trader Joe’s said it will also no longer require customers to wear face masks inside its stores if they are vaccinated, though a spokesperson said that masks are still required for staff at this time.

The grocery store said on its COVID-19 webpage that it encourages “customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping.”

But it's all based on the honor system; nobody will be asking for proof of vaccination at the door. Some experts have said cloth masks may not be enough for employees if nobody else is wearing a mask; the medical-grade N95 may be needed. 

Trader Joe’s rule comes on the heels of another change that was quietly adopted; the company told USA Today that it is dropping senior hours at its stores, except where it’s required.

Read more here


CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines to be 94 percent effective in health workers 


The CDC’s ongoing largest effectiveness study found the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to be 94 percent effective among health care workers. 

The interim study results released on Friday further support previous data on the effectiveness of the two vaccines, which use mRNA technology and have been widely administered in the U.S. 

The researchers estimated that those who were fully vaccinated were 94 percent less likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19, while people who were partially vaccinated were 82 percent less likely.

The study examined 1,843 health care professionals between January and March of this year after most workers in the field were given priority to get the vaccine early in the country’s rollout.

Why it’s important: The CDC research involved a sample size that reached a broader geographic area than the clinical trials with a network covering health care workers in 33 sites across 25 states.

“This report provided the most compelling information to date that COVID-19 vaccines were performing as expected in the real world,” Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure Overnight Health Care: Biden touts 300 million vaccine doses in 150 days | Biden warns of 'potentially deadlier' delta variant | Public option fades with little outcry from progressives Biden warns of 'potentially deadlier' delta variant, urges public to get vaccine MORE said in a statement. “This study, added to the many studies that preceded it, was pivotal to CDC changing its recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

The study backed research released in March that found the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were 90 percent effective at preventing all infections.


Read more here.


Eviction pause remains: Judge agrees to delay order ending CDC eviction freeze

A federal judge on Friday agreed to keep the nationwide freeze on evictions intact after her ruling earlier this month struck down the moratorium handing a temporary reprieve to cash-strapped renters.

The move keeps the eviction pause in place as the Biden administration appeals the judge’s May 5 decision that the CDC exceeded its authority with the ban on evictions.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich agreed to stay her earlier ruling in a 10-page ruling, which invalidated the nationwide freeze on evictions that was put in place by federal health officials amid the pandemic.

In granting the emergency stay, Friedrich said the CDC’s “strong interest in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health” outweighed other factors, including the potential loss of revenue to landlords.


Background: Enacted in September as a public health measure, the CDC order was designed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus by helping financially distressed tenants remain in their homes, instead of forcing them into homeless shelters or other crowded living spaces. The eviction pause was later extended through June.

Housing advocates celebrate: “Without this stay, millions of families would be thrown into a spiral of irreparable and devastating harm, COVID-19 rates would spike, and policy interventions, like rental assistance, would be rendered worthless,” Emily Benfer, a law professor at Wake Forest University, said. “That battle is still on the horizon but, for today, the public health is better protected."

What’s next: The Biden administration’s appeal of that decision is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. 

Read more here


Biden reverses Trump order barring immigrants who cannot afford health care

President BidenJoe BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE on Friday revoked a 2019 proclamation signed by then-President TrumpDonald TrumpWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Trump's former bodyguard investigated in NY prosectors' probe: report MORE that prevented immigrants from obtaining visas unless they proved they could obtain health insurance or pay for health care.

Biden said in his own proclamation signed Friday afternoon that the October 2019 order "does not advance the interests of the United States."

“My Administration is committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Biden's proclamation states. “We can achieve that objective, however, without barring the entry of noncitizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country but who lack significant financial means or have not purchased health insurance coverage from a restrictive list of qualifying plans.”

Biden ordered leaders at the departments of State, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security to “review any regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions developed pursuant to” the 2019 proclamation and issue “revised guidance” as appropriate that reflects his own policy.

The action represented Biden’s latest effort to roll back a policy of the previous administration. It came minutes after the White House made public an executive order revoking the “National Garden of American Heroes” that Trump ordered built last year.

Read more here


What we’re reading

Parents wonder what to do with their unvaccinated children as CDC changes mask guidance (The Washington Post)

How the United States beat the variants, for now (The New York Times

What do we do with the masks now? Be grateful for them — and for science (Stat)


State by state

Mask Or No Mask? That Depends Where You Live (NPR)

CDC’s mask guidance spurs confusion and criticism, as well as celebration (Washington Post

New Texas lawsuit accuses Biden administration of threatening state’s health care funding to force Medicaid expansion (The Texas Tribune)