It’s only been 5 days since the CDC made a long-awaited change to its mask guidance, and 23 states and Washington, DC, have already followed suit.

According to the new recommendations, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, regardless of gathering size. The CDC still advises travelers to wear masks while on airplanes, buses, or trains, and the guidance still calls for masks in some indoor settings, including hospitals, homeless shelters, and prisons. Those who are not vaccinated should still wear masks and physically distance, the CDC says.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said last week. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

As a result, states and territories including Michigan, Washington, DC, and New York have given vaccinated residents the OK to ditch their masks.

The changes come as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to decline. President Joe Biden said in remarks Monday that 60% of Americans have received at least one vaccine shot. COVID-related deaths are down by more than 80%, and the administration aims to have 70% of the U.S. at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

At a White House media briefing last week, the COVID-19 Response Team reported that since everyone 16 and over became eligible for vaccination, cases have dropped by 45%. 

Walensky reported a 7-day average last Thursday of about 36,800 cases per day, a 23% decrease from the week-before average. During a media briefing today, Walensky said fewer than 18,000 new cases were reported Monday, the lowest number since June. The 7-day average of new hospital admissions was 3,500, down from 4,100  a week before. 

Twenty-seven states never enacted masks rules. But, these are the states that did and now have adopted the CDC mask guidelines, although certain counties, towns, and businesses may still be enforcing their own rules:


White House COVID-19 Response Team media briefings, May 13, 2021, May 18, 2021.

Chicago Tribune: “Following CDC guidelines, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says those who are fully vaccinated can drop masks in most situations, but Chicago maintaining status quo for now.” “California will align its mask guidance with CDC’s on June 15, 2021.”

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: “Guidance for wearing masks.” “May 15, 2021 Gatherings and Face Mask Order.”

Connecticut’s Official State Website: “Connecticut COVID-19 Response.” “Governor Carney to Lift Delaware Mask Mandate Effective May 21.”

DCHealth: “Coronavirus Situational Update.” “Gov. Beshear: Economy Set for Liftoff as Final Capacity Limits End June 11.”

State of Maine: “Face Covering Executive Order FAQs.”

Office of Governor Larry Hogan: “Governor Hogan Announces End of Statewide Mask Mandate.”

NC Governor Roy Cooper: “Following New CDC Guidance on Face Coverings, Governor Cooper Lifts Many COVID-19 Restrictions.”

Minnesota COVID-19 Response: “Safely ending COVID-19 restrictions.”

Nevada Health Response: “Nevada Adopts Updated CDC Mask Guidance.”

Office of the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham: “Updated public health order in effect; New Mexico adopts CDC mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.”

New York State: “Governor Cuomo Announces New York State to Adopt New CDC Guidance on Mask Use and Social Distancing for Fully Vaccinated Individuals.”

Ohio Department of Health: “Governor DeWine Statement on New CDC Mask Guidance.” “Oregon Mask Requirements.”

Pennsylvania Department of Health: “Updated Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings.”

Rhode Island Department of Health: “Protect Your Household from COVID-19.”

Office of Governor Phil Scott: “Governor Phil Scott Lifts Mask Mandate For Vaccinated Individuals, Accelerates Vermont Forward Plan.”

Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam: “Governor Northam Lifts Mask Mandate to Align with CDC Guidance, Announces Virginia to End COVID-19 Mitigation Measures on May 28.”

King County: “Statewide requirement to wear face coverings.”

Office of the Governor Jim Justice: “COVID-19 UPDATE: Gov. Justice lifts face covering requirement for fully vaccinated West Virginians.”

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