“I think that people who were not inclined to wear a mask were not inclined to wear a mask before Thursday,” Walensky told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked if she trusted that people would wear a mask if they were unvaccinated.
“What we’re really asking in those settings, is to say, in terms of the honor system, people have to be honest with themselves,” Walensky said. “You’re protected if you’re vaccinated, you’re not if you’re not vaccinated.”
Everyone taking their masks off will be a slow process, she said, as not all communities are the same — with some having high levels of vaccinations and others still showing high case rates.
“I want to convey that we are not saying that everybody has to take off their mask if they’re vaccinated,” Walensky said. “It’s been 16 months that we’ve been telling people to mask and this is going to be a slow process.”
The CDC director said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that the agency is asking people to take their health into their own hands.
“We are asking people to take their health into their own hands, to get vaccinated, and if they don’t, then they continue to be at risk. For the unvaccinated, our policy has not changed,” she said. “We were going to get to a place in this pandemic where vaccinated people were going to be able to take off their mask. We’re lucky to be there with the science that we have, and now we have to take this foundational step that is completely based in science and understand what it means as we open the entire country.”
Walensky told Bash the CDC will not be changing its guidance for the end of the school year but said the CDC is currently working to update its summer camp Covid-19 guidance, which still recommends social distancing and masking at all times, including when playing outdoor sports, with exceptions for things like eating and swimming.
“Most kids will not be vaccinated or fully vaccinated before the end of this year and we’re going to work on updating our school guidance,” Walensky said. “So much evolved just in this week, both with our guidance — with unmask if you’re vaccinated — as well as the eligibility of vaccination for 12 to 15 year olds. So yes, we do have to rapidly update our camp guidance and we’re working on that right now.”
CNN’s Katia Hetter and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.