The new federal guidelines issued on Monday allow people who are at least two weeks past being fully vaccinated – meaning two jabs with the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or one shot of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson inoculation – to visit indoors sans masks with others who meet the same criteria.
It's also safe enough, the CDC said, to be around small groups of unvaccinated people in some situations, such as a single household with no one deemed to be at high risk of severe Covid-19 cases.
Fully vaccinated Americans can even refrain from quarantining themselves if they are exposed to an asymptomatic person who is found to have been infected with Covid-19. But masks and social distancing are still required, the CDC said, when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households or with individuals who are considered high-risk or live with someone who is high-risk.
That means continuing to wear a mask and social distancing in public, avoiding crowds and getting tested for Covid-19 if you feel sick. Travel continues to be discouraged. Even the modest "freedoms" that were granted apparently came begrudgingly, as the CDC said there is still some risk of infection with vaccinated people, but that may be outweighed by the benefits of "reducing social isolation."
After months of being told by politicians that Covid-19 vaccines are a "light at the end of the tunnel" in enduring the pandemic, many Americans have grown frustrated by continuing restrictions even for those who get the jabs.
For instance, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the media darling and leading government voice of authority on all things Covid-19, has said people may need to continue wearing masks into 2022. The notion that the CDC is now granting "limited freedoms" — as both the Washington Post and CNN described the updated guidelines – to the approximately 30 million fully vaccinated Americans provoked some observers to question the government agency’s authority.
"Thanks to the great state above," one commenter said sarcastically on Twitter. "The CDC has benevolently chosen to grant we mere mortals some limited freedoms. They deserve our most humble gratitude. What we do and where would we be without them?"
Some observers suggested that the way the new guidelines were being presented by the media revealed that the government had pulled off a successful power grab. "The CDC/CNN are not even hiding it anymore," one Twitter user said.
Commentator Don Wolt quipped that the CDC's granting of "limited freedoms" to the vaccinated marks one of the "great strides for freedom in American history."
Retired Navy Seal Tim Wood said that the CDC has no such authority constitutionally, while an Army veteran who goes by Paul USA Patriot said, "I've got all my freedoms without being vaccinated."
National Review editor Philip Klein suggested that it was CNN's "framing" of the story which was "horrible," pointing out that the CDC "doesn't 'give' freedom. CDC gives **advice**."