Wearing a mask in public has been a staple during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But now that more than half of US adults -- about 135 million people 18 and older -- have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, many are ready to go maskless - at least when outdoors.
In order to achieve herd immunity, though, medical experts say 70 percent of Americans must be fully -- not just partially --- vaccinated.
In other words, we're not quite there yet.
That means people should continue to wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and "anywhere they will be around other people," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There is one caveat, though, according to one infectious disease expert.
"Outdoor masking in most ordinary circumstances is not going to provide extraordinary value," Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Yahoo. "If you're in a crowd where people can’t social distance, masks make sense. But in ordinary outdoor environments, there's not much value to it."
Another expert, Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, told Yahoo that "the uptake of vaccination leads us in a direction over time that could lead to not wearing masks. But we are nowhere near that point."
A total of 26 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, mandate mask-wearing in public, both indoors and outdoors.
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