JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Target and CVS are no longer requiring fully vaccinated customers to wear face masks in stores, joining several other U.S. retailers changing their rules after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidance.
Under the new guidelines released last week, fully vaccinated people -- those who are two weeks past their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine -- can quit wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings and give up social distancing. But those rules apply to less than 50% of people in Florida.
President Joe Biden spoke out Monday as major corporations -- which also include Walmart, Publix and Starbucks -- changed their mask-wearing rules for fully vaccinated people, following the CDC’s new guidelines.
“Let’s all be kind and respectful of one another as we come out of this pandemic and respect those who want to continue to wear a mask even if they’ve been vaccinated,” Biden said. “Above all, let’s work together though to meet the target I’ve said of 70% of adults.”
According to Biden, this week, roughly 60% of Americans will have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
But in Florida, that number is considerably lower. Statewide, 45% of Floridians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to state data. In Duval County, even fewer have gotten at least one dose -- 36%.
“There’s certainly concern that there’s going to be increased spread in the community, for sure, amongst the unvaccinated crowd, with so few people still vaccinated against COVID,” said Chad Neilsen, director of infection prevention at UF Health. “Obviously, we have some concerns about certain areas of Jacksonville who are not served well from a health care perspective and reaching those people to get them vaccines if they so choose to take it. But, ultimately, anyone who wants a vaccine at this point largely can probably get one. And so really that personal responsibility, if you’re not vaccinated, you’re going to have to assume some level of risk if you’re not wearing a mask in public, and I think that’s just where we’re at right now in this pandemic.”
The CDC’s new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.