National Nurses Union Asks CDC to Reconsider New Mask Guidance

Recent studies indicated that those individuals with compromised immune systems don’t generate as strong of an immune response to the vaccine, leaving them potentially vulnerable to infection

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The nation’s largest union of registered nurses is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse its guidance on masks, saying that it is too soon to dispense with facial coverings in public settings.

National Nurses United, which represents more than 170,000 members according to its website, is urging the CDC to re-think its mask free recommendations, even for people fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

“The guidance the CDC issued on May 13 is disappointing, not in the best interest of public health and not based on science,” Jean Ross of the NNU said.

That guidance said that those individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume most activities without wearing a mask or social distancing, except where prohibited by local law. The NNU says the guidance fails to take into account people who are immunocompromised, those who have asymptomatic cases, and those with mild cases.

“When I learned about the CDC’s recently updated guidance for vaccinated people, I was shocked,” Zeni-Triunfo-Cortez, another member of the NNU, said.

Recent studies have indicated that those individuals with compromised immune systems, including individuals who had specific blood cancers or have received organ transplants, don’t generate as strong of an immune response to the vaccine, leaving them potentially vulnerable to infection.

“I have friends and co-workers who are immunocompromised,” Triunfo-Cortez said. “They are at risk.”

Physicians are encouraging those with potential immunodeficiencies to continue taking precautions, including wearing masks and social distancing, but state and local governments are moving ahead with repeals of most mask and distancing mandates for vaccinated individuals.

The city of Chicago is one of those governments, but officials are still urging some caution on behalf of residents.

“At some level here, we are needing folks to be doing the right thing,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said.

Masks are still required in certain settings, including on public transportation and on airplanes, but the CDC guidance says that fully vaccinated individuals are not advised to wear masks in most settings. Unvaccinated individuals are still encouraged to wear masks.

Illinois aligns its mask guidance with CDC recommendations, but Chicago and some businesses aren’t on board yet. NBC 5's Alex Maragos reports.
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