CDC announced sweeping changes to its COVID-19 guidance for fully vaccinated people.

If you’ve fully vaccinated you no longer need to wear a mask or stay physically distant from others, according to new guidance issued yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — unless required by law or regulation, including local business and workplace guidance.

“We have all longed for this moment,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House news conference yesterday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Masks are still required on public transit, airlines and while visiting health care facilities, according to the CDC.

The abrupt and rather sweeping changes took government officials and health experts by surprise. Just two weeks ago, the CDC eased restrictions for fully vaccinated people, but said they should still wear masks in indoor public settings and outdoors in large crowds.

Not all states, including New York, immediately revised their own rules to conform to the new CDC guidance.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday state health officials are reviewing the new CDC guidance and will rely “on the facts and science.”

“We have received the newly revised guidance from the CDC regarding mask wearing and social distancing for those with vaccinations and are reviewing them in consultation with Dr. Zucker and our partners and health experts in surrounding states,” Cuomo said in a statement.

According to a New York Times survey of 723 epidemiologists, conducted between April 28 and May 10, 80% thought Americans would need to wear masks in public indoor places for at least another year.

Less than 40% of the U.S. population is currently fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. Nationwide, 42.5% of people ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated.

More than 50% of New Yorkers age 18 and older and and more than 40% of all New Yorkers are fully vaccinated the governor said yesterday.

In Suffolk County, nearly 41% of the total population is fully vaccinated, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

The number of people seeking vaccines has been declining across the U.S. since April 1, when 4.3 million new doses were administered. On May 11, less than 1.2 million new doses were administered.

Meanwhile, COVID infection rates continue to decline, with the seven-day average of daily new cases reported in the U.S. falling to below 50,000, according to CDC data.

The percent-positive rate for new COVID tests fell to 1.1% Wednesday, the lowest since Oct. 10, Cuomo said yesterday.

The percent-positive rate in Suffolk fell to 0.9% — and an average of 1.1% over the past seven days.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.