CDC delays announcing that COVID-vaccinated Americans can gather indoors without masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was planning to announce new guidelines this Thursday on what fully vaccinated Americans can do, including allowing for small gatherings indoors with other vaccinated individuals.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a chief medical adviser for the current administration, had previewed the guidance:

“I use the example of a daughter coming in from out of town who is doubly vaccinated, and a husband and wife doubly vaccinated, and maybe a next door neighbor, who you know are doubly vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci said at a White House COVID-19 Task Force press conference Monday.

Small gatherings in the home of people, I think you can clearly feel that the risk, the relative risk, is so low that you would not have to wear a mask, that you could have a good social gathering within the home.”

But after a series of phone calls among administration officials after the trial-balloon preview was shared, the agency is now delaying the announcement.

After a series of meetings and calls with senior officials on the White House’s Covid-19 task force and the Department of Health and Human Services over the last two days, the CDC was told to “hold off on releasing” the recommendations, one of those sources said. The reason is still unclear but one senior administration official said the guidelines were still being finalized.

Another official said the CDC had put together the guidelines over the last several weeks and was preparing to go through the final clearance process before the stop was put in place. A new draft of the guidelines was circulated last Friday and then again early this week. Top health officials originally were supposed to sign off on the language Wednesday.

A third senior administration official expected that the guidelines would be released “soon.” A fourth said major guidelines on Covid-19 often go through “rigorous deliberations” in the last few days before their release.

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