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CDC loosens mask guidance for summer camps

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The CDC has eased its guidance on mask wearing and other COVID-19 suggestions for summer camps, updating their recommendations for kids weeks after youth ages 12 to 15 were made eligible for vaccination.

What are the details?

The update released Friday points out that coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. are now approved for everyone age 12 and up, and says that camps where everyone is inoculated against the virus may safely ditch masks and social distancing entirely. Although vaccinated people do not need to wear masks, the CDC recommends that camps support those who choose to continue wearing a facial covering.

The Washington Examiner pointed out that kids ages 12 to 15 were just made eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine on May 12. As of CDC stats today, nearly 60% of children 12 and older have received at least one jab — a number high enough that the CDC sees opportunities for a "pre-pandemic camp experience," one official told The Washington Post.

"We have this whole group of adolescents who by mid- to late summer can be fully vaccinated," CDC Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force team lead told the newspaper. "Camps are at a point where they can offer an opportunity to have a camp setting where everyone is fully vaccinated."

For camps where not everyone is vaccinated — applying to every camp where kids under 12 are included — masks are still recommended by the feds indoors, but the CDC says that "in general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors." Still, unvaccinated people should where masks outside when in "sustained close contact" situations with others who are not inoculated, the agency says.

The Post reported that the CDC's updated guidelines "remove some glaring inconsistencies between earlier camp recommendations that all staffers and campers wear masks and more recent announcements."

Two weeks ago, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans could return to mask-free living with a few exceptions, and their update for youth camps comes just as the summer sessions begin.

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