Miami-Dade’s mask request goes beyond CDC: wear them in public, including outdoors

·2 min read

When she announced new mask rules in Miami-Dade County’s government buildings, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava urged businesses to follow suit and require masks indoors.

That mirrors new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which this week advised fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas like Miami where COVID-19 is spreading quickly. But Levine Cava also wants Miami-Dade residents to wear masks when they’re with other people outdoors — advice that goes beyond CDC guidance.

Following up on a Wednesday press conference, Levine Cava’s office on Thursday posted “New Mask Guidance” on social media that makes no distinction between indoor and outdoor masking, but does prioritize wearing a mask in large crowds.

“We strongly recommend everyone wear a mask in all public settings including outdoors — especially when in large crowds and around people you don’t know to be vaccinated,” the guidance says.

The CDC website doesn’t recommend masks for most vaccinated people: “Current data suggest the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in outdoor settings is minimal. In general, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask outdoors. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised.”

Dr. Peter Paige, the Jackson Health System administrator who also serves as Levine Cava’s top medical adviser, said the more aggressive masking guidance came from him. He said it makes sense for Miami-Dade to encourage mask-wearing in public without focusing on location.

“We’re just trying to encourage people to be more aware of their surroundings, and mask whenever they can,” Paige said. As for going beyond the CDC recommendations, Paige said the worsening COVID situation in Miami-Dade calls for the more aggressive mask guidance.

“We’re trying to stay as close to the forefront as we can,” he said. “We’re taking a more conservative approach because we’re seeing the virus spread. We’re seeing large crowds gather without masks on.”

The CDC may already be considering more aggressive mask requirements. On Thursday, the Washington Post reported on an internal CDC presentation about the rapid spread of the delta variant of COVID-19, and its ability to be passed on by vaccinated people as well as the unvaccinated. “Given the higher transmissibility and current vaccine coverage, universal masking is essential to reduce transmission of the Delta variant,” the presentation states.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Levine Cava announced masks would be required indoors at all county buildings. She also urged businesses to follow suit with their own mask rules, and encouraged the public to start wearing masks again regularly.

“Wear a mask in indoor settings, public indoor settings,” she said. “We also strongly encourage people to wear masks in all public settings, even outdoors, especially when in large crowds and around people that you don’t know have been vaccinated.”

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