In announcement surprising for both Americans and the White House, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Thursday announced amended COVID-19 prevention guidelines, now specifying that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors.

“I think it’s a great milestone, a great day,” President Joe Biden said during an address Thursday. Standing beside the president was Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Being able to go around without a mask, indoors as well as outdoors, is really a big step in that direction,” Fauci said. “I wouldn’t want to declare victory prematurely, but I’m saying this is clearly a step in the direction that we want to go.”

The CDC still requires, in order for a person to be “fully” vaccinated, for two weeks to pass after a second shot of a Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

The federal mask mandate will remain for all travel including planes, per a statement from the Transportation Security Administration. The mandate is expected to continue through to September 13. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said during an interview Thursday regarding the administration’s decision that, “In circumstances where people are packed close together and you don’t know the status of immunization of everybody, it is still the better part of being cautious to wear masks on those planes and trains and buses,” Collins explained. “Once we get further along with an even higher degree of immunization, and the viral infections – which are still 30,000 a day – really continue to drop down, we’ll be able to relax those as well.”

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