Healthcare

Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks

The nation's largest nurses union condemned the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that stipulates fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks in most settings. 

National Nurses United (NNU) in a statement Saturday said it was concerned that it would put patients, front-line workers and nurses at risk amid a pandemic that is still present in the U.S.

"This newest CDC guidance is not based on science, does not protect public health, and threatens the lives of patients, nurses, and other frontline workers across the country," said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo. "Now is not the time to relax protective measures, and we are outraged that the CDC has done just that while we are still in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in a century."

"CDC issued this new guidance even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency temporary standard mandated by President Biden's Jan. 21 executive order has been delayed for two months. This lack of protection compounds the dangers that nurses and other essential workers continue to face on the job," Castillo added.

The union specifically noted that more than 35,000 new cases are tallied daily in the U.S. and that fears linger over the spread of highly contagious variants.

The rebuke comes two days after the CDC said that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear face coverings or practice social distancing. 

The administration touted the guidance as a victory and a return to normalcy after more than a year of death and confusion. 

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing. "If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy."

The new guidelines do not apply in health care settings, correctional facilities or homeless shelters. People also will be required to follow local business and workplace guidelines.

In addition, Americans will still be required to wear masks in airports and while traveling on airplanes buses and trains. 

However, major retailers and grocery stores such as Walmart, Trader Joe's, Costco, Publix and more have updated their mask policies following the guidance. Some have noted, though, that mask policies will differ in stores from state to state depending on their restrictions. 

Outbrain