Fully vaccinated Americans can mostly return to life without masks: CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most cases, including in crowds.
3:51 | 05/14/21

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Transcript for Fully vaccinated Americans can mostly return to life without masks: CDC
Fully vaccinated Americans can now return to life without these masks right here. There are a few exceptions but it's a significant shift. 405 days after the CDC first told Americans to mask up, right now more than 118 million people are fully vaccinated. That exceeds a third of the U.S. Population. Feels good to hear the sound of that but there are some questions now about what these new guidelines will actually mean. This morning some of the 24 states that still have mask mandates are looking to lift those restrictions but some businesses have already said they will not be changing those rules just yet. We're going to talk about this milestone and the country's next step forward with CDC director Rochelle walensky live in just a moment but first whit Johnson joins us with all the details. Good morning, whit. Reporter: Michael, good morning. It's been more than a year since the CDC first recommended that Americans wear masks. Now a significant step closer to normal life but ditching the mask comes with a new set of challenges for schools, businesses and local governments, especially with more than half the country still not vaccinated. This morning, a major turning point. I can breathe again. I think that's fantastic. I think that's what everyone was waiting to hear. Reporter: The CDC saying fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors in most places. I feel like a sense of freedom right now. I've already planned a mask burning party. Reporter: President Biden entering his rose garden briefing maskless. The white house confirming vaccinated staffers are no longer required to wear them. It's a great milestone, a great day. It's been made possible by the extraordinary success we've had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly. Reporter: On capitol hill some senators midvote when the news came down gleefully taking off their masks but there are exceptions. The CDC saying fully vaccinated people should still wear masks in hospitals, on buses, trains, planes and if required by a state, county, employer or business. In California, L.A. County officials will not immediately follow the relaxed rules. In Massachusetts, the mask mandate is staying in place for now and there are still questions about what this means for places like schools. One of the nation's largest teachers unions planning to follow the guidance. If everyone is vaccinated in a classroom, then it sounds like everybody in that classroom could go maskless. But you have to make sure everybody is vaccinated and you also have to make sure everybody is comfortable with it. Reporter: The union representing retail and grocery workers saying in a statement it's confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks. Kroger, the nation's second largest grocery chain, will continue to require everyone in their stores to wear a mask. Indoor mask mandates should go at some point but not right away. We should just wait a little longer for more people to get vaccinated. Reporter: Raising concerns news of a breakthrough outbreak among the New York Yankees. At least eight fully vaccinated members including star short stop claber torres testing positive. All eight received the Johnson & Johnson shot and infections are mild or asymptomatic. Experts and the Yankees' general manager say these cases prove the vaccine works. I believe the vaccine is working, you know, we've got eight positives and seven of the eight presented as without symptoms. So without the testing you wouldn't even have known. Reporter: Now the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine overall was slightly lower than pfizer and modern in clinical trials but it was very effective at preventing severe illness. Health officials are reminding people that breakthrough infections after being vaccinated are rare. Let's bring in Dr. Rochelle walensky.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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