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CDC relaxes outdoor mask guidelines for unvaccinated campers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday significantly relaxed mask recommendations for young outdoor campers, saying all campers – even unvaccinated ones – do not need to wear masks on the go. outdoors, unless community transmission of the virus is problematic.

The CDC has always “strongly encouraged” the use of masks indoors for anyone who is not fully vaccinated, while fully vaccinated campers do not need to wear masks in any setting, according to guidelines.

CDC advice is only a recommendation; State and local governments have the final say on mask rules, which may be more restrictive than CDC guidelines.

The most recent California Department of Public Health guidelines for overnight camps, released May 13, indicate that if all camp staff and participants are fully immunized, they can operate without COVID-19 public health restrictions. .

But while camp staff and participants have not yet been fully immunized, California requires everyone to wear a mask outside if they cannot distance themselves from others, and everyone must wear one. mask inside, regardless of physical distance.

These rules are in effect until June 15, when California’s mask rules will ease, and fully vaccinated people will no longer need to wear face covers in most settings, except on transport. in common and in transit centers and at large events with 5,000 or more people indoors and 10,000 or more outdoors.

The California Department of Public Health said on Friday that there are currently no plans to relax existing mask guidelines until June 15.

“The CDC has explicitly given states, communities and businesses the ability to go at their own pace, and that is what we are doing,” the department said in a statement. “California is the largest and most complex state in the country, and it’s critical that we do it right, so that’s what we’re going to do. Californians have had plenty of time to digest that we reopen on June 15, and changing the mask requirements at that time makes sense. ”

State officials have suggested mask guidelines will continue to change as vaccination rates increase.

LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer also said on Thursday that she expected mask guidelines to change over time.

“There is new information, information constantly emerging, about the difference between outdoors and indoors for children,” Ferrer said. “And where, in fact, there may be much less risk in terms of outdoor activities, there may be an opportunity to lift some of the masking guidelines.”

The guidelines can safely change “with a lot of people vaccinated” because it results in “much less community transmission,” Ferrer said.

High vaccination rates “take us to places where case rates are so low that you don’t have to worry as much about transmission in places where transmission is not as likely in the first place – which would be an exterior frame versus an interior setting, ”Ferrer said.

Compared to adults, the noses of young children have significantly fewer ACE2 receptors, proteins on the surface of cells to which the coronavirus adheres. The lack of ACE2 receptors is usually the reason why children are less likely to contract or transmit the coronavirus to the same extent as adults.

New CDC guidelines released on Friday say camp programs should support those who choose to always wear a mask.

And the CDC has suggested that if community transmission of the coronavirus is “substantial” or “high,” that people who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged to wear masks in “crowded outdoor locations during activities involving close contact. and supported with other people who are not. fully vaccinated.

Most counties in California are classified as having “moderate” or “low” coronavirus transmission; a handful of counties in the San Joaquin Valley, Sierra Nevada and the rural northern part of the state are classified as still having “substantial” or “high” transmission.

The CDC said camps can always decide to require masks for everyone – vaccinated or not – “when it is difficult to tell who has been vaccinated or to set an example for campers not fully vaccinated.”

“Particularly in areas of substantial to high transmission, camps may consider requiring masks to be worn indoors by all persons present, including vaccinated campers, staff and others such as visitors. “the CDC said.

Other tips from the CDC include:

• Avoid crowded and / or poorly ventilated indoor activities (eg, enjoy outdoor activities where possible and increase ventilation for indoor activities).
• Masks should not be worn during outdoor activities that could get the masks wet, such as using boats and watercraft or swimming at the beach or pool.
• Since masks should not be worn in swimming pools, campers should maintain a physical distance and camps should limit the number of people in the pool at one time. A wet mask can make it difficult to breathe and may not work as expected.
• Masks should not be worn while sleeping.

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