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Cleveland doctors say 'it's about time' for new mask guidelines for vaccinated people

New CDC guidelines recommend fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks outdoors or indoors in most cases.

CLEVELAND — Cleveland doctors are reacting to the new CDC guidelines recommending that fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks outdoors or indoors in most cases.

"This is really great," Dr. Raed Dweik, chairman of the Cleveland Respirator Institute, said.

"I would actually say it's about time," Dr. Amy Edwards, Pediatric Infectious Disease Doctor at University Hospitals, added.

It's the first time in over a year Americans have gotten the all clear to be mask-free.

"We have been living with these masks for how long now? Since the beginning of the pandemic," Dweik said. "This has been a long time coming."

The journey with masks has been full of questions: Where to get them? How to make them? Do I need one here, or there?

"If anything has been more confusing, probably more than anything else is the masks," Dweik said.

The new CDC guidelines answer all those questions: As long as you're vaccinated, you're safe without it.

"Yes, we were going to reach a place where fewer people needed to wear masks," Dr. David Margolius, Director of Internal Medicine for MetroHealth, said.

"Vaccinated individuals are extremely low-risk, for the most part," Edwards continued. "When you're in high-risk situations, you should still wear a mask."

Local doctors say masks were recommended throughout the pandemic because it was one of the safest precautions while they learned more about the virus, but they also proved to be effective in stopping other viruses.

"Really, this year, we have seen no cases of the flu," Dweik said. "It's almost unprecedented. I could say [it's] really due to everybody wearing their masks."

3News asked doctors if the new guidelines were the right call. They said yes, because of vaccines.

"I think as with anything with this virus, time will tell," Dr. Kristin Englund Infectious Disease Specialist for Cleveland Clinic, explained. "I think it was time to probably stop putting those restrictions on board."

The new guidelines do not mean local governments have to lift mask mandates, and businesses also still reserve the right to require a mask indoor if they chose to. Indeed, Giant Eagle released the following statement to 3News regarding their mask policies:

"At Giant Eagle, the health and wellbeing of our Team Members and guests remains our top priority. As we actively evaluate the shifts in state and CDC guidance, we will continue to require anyone working or shopping in our stores to wear a mask or face covering."

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