Jill Biden says finally going mask-free feels like “we're moving forward.” A Republican senator says going unmasked "certainly helps the flow of conversation.”
Across Washington, the government is adjusting to new federal guidance easing up on when masks should be worn.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their last required dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — can stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated people should keep wearing masks, the guidance says.
Reporters caught up with President Joe Biden as he made an unannounced appearance on the White House driveway to pose for photos with a departing staff member. Asked if he was enjoying his first workday without a mask, Biden replied “yes” as he reentered the West Wing.
For the first time in about a year, reporters went barefaced as they questioned White House press secretary Jen Psaki at the daily briefing.
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In other developments:
- A number of states immediately embraced new guidelines from the CDC that say fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most situations. But other states — and some businesses — are taking a wait-and-see attitude amid questions of whether the new policy is safe or even workable.
- People have unwittingly had their online posts or pictures exploited to spread misinformation about COVID-19 in recent months. They include a movie prop master whose video about retractable stunt needles was used to spread false claims about injections, a doctor whose miscarriage was incorrectly blamed on the vaccine, and a professor whose identity was manipulated to push the conspiracy theory that the coronavirus is a hoax.
- A new national terrorism alert is warning that violent extremists may take advantage of the easing of pandemic restrictions to conduct attacks.
- Thanks to an efficient vaccine rollout program, Britain is finally saying goodbye to months of tough lockdown restrictions.
- Japan is further expanding a coronavirus state of emergency from six areas, including Tokyo, to nine as the government repeated its determination to hold the Olympics in just over two months.
For more summaries and full reports, select from the articles below. Scroll further for a new "Mask or Not" guide and the latest virus numbers.