CDC Covid News: Mask Mandates, End of Pandemic, Boosters, and More

When the CDC updated his quarantine guidelines in late December, he was greeted with much confusion. And the head scratching just continued.

Pfizer dangled the promise of a vaccine for children under five, only to pull the rug out from under parents at the 11th hour. Washington lifted its vaccine controls and masking requirements in March, but some local facilities kept theirs in place to protect workers. A federal judge later repealed a mask mandate for public transportation, which required travelers to unmask mid-flight. Even Fauci had to backtrack on some of his comments about the end of the pandemic.

In short, difficult to follow. Consider this your guide to the latest needed Covid information from the CDC and our local public health organizations.

Is the pandemic already over?

In an interview with PBS NewsTime, Fauci made striking comments: “We are not in the pandemic phase in this country.” So it’s all done, isn’t it?

Not exactly. In a later interview with the Washington Post, he clarified that he meant that we were out of the “full blown” pandemic phase and transitioning to an endemic phase. When we really get to the other side of the Covid tunnel will depend on continued vaccination and public health efforts.

How many Americans have had Covid anyway?

In newly released data from February, the CDC reported that nearly 60% of people living in the United States have had Covid, including about 75% of children. This was largely fueled by the omicron surge of winter.

Moreover, with the milder variants, public health officials appear to have shifted their focus from preventing Covid infections to simply preventing serious illness from infection. The White House’s new Covid coordinator, Dr Ashish Jha, went so far as to say that stopping new Covid cases is “not even a political goal”.

What does King County’s “average” status mean?

We have gone from numbered phases to Covid-19 community levels to three CDC levels. In late April, King County announced that we had failed the “medium” phase, which means we had more than 200 new cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day period. Awesome.

In the most basic terms, this means there is a higher risk of catching Covid in the community. Public Health – Seattle and King County said they are not issuing any additional requirements or restrictions…at this time.

Where should you wear a mask?

You can now board a subway bus or walk around Sea-Tac with your chin hanging down, but here in Washington, masks are still needed in health care, long-term care and correctional facilities. Individual businesses and school districts can also determine if they want to require masks.

Public Health encourages people who are immunocompromised, ill or unvaccinated to continue wearing a mask in indoor public places. And, yes, the CDC says to continue masking transports as well.

What are the latest CDC quarantine guidelines?

Simply put, the CDC has reduced its previous 10-day quarantine period to five days for those who have been exposed but have not yet tested positive. And if you’re as vaccinated as you can be and don’t have any symptoms, you don’t even need to self-quarantine after an exposure. This applies if you:

  • You are 18 years or older and have received your full series of vaccines and a reminder
  • You are between 5 and 17 years old and have received your full series of vaccines
  • Tested positive for Covid in the last 90 days

The change prompted many public health entities, like the Washington State Department of Health, to follow suit. After all, if the “CDC says”, that’s fine…

Who can get Covid reminders?

To kick off 2022, the CDC announced several changes to booster eligibility, shortening the waiting period for additional injections and expanding eligibility.

Now anyone 12 or older can get their first booster, and people over 50 get two boosters. People 12 and older who are immunocompromised and people who have only had Johnson and Johnson injections can also get a second booster shot.

So far, more than one million King County residents have been boosted, or about 51% of the eligible population. If you want to know where to get a booster shot, we’ve got you covered.

What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated” now?

The CDC still considers “fully vaccinated” individuals as those who are two weeks away from their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or their only J&J. They are careful to note, however, that this does not mean “better protection.”

“Fully immunized” should not be confused with “up to date” in vaccinations. This last category includes having received your recommended boosters.

What about Covid vaccines for children?

In short, still in the same place we were back in November 2021. Pfizer made its entire FDA approval diversion with its shot for the smaller set, and still hasn’t renewed its request. Meanwhile, Moderna has just announced that it will ask the FDA to authorize its vaccine for children as young as six months old. We understand if wary parents aren’t tearing up Chambong’s hits just yet.

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