US Mask Mandate Guidance

HMI’s science-based position on mask mandates and guidelines: uphold mask mandates until we are at least 50% fully vaccinated as a nation

date: 17 May, 2021 @ 12:00 PM ET

At Hood Medicine Initiative, we trust and believe in science. The CDC’s decision making process is based on science. For this reason, we continue to support the work the CDC does behind the scenes in order to keep the public abreast of the updated findings related to the pandemic.

Given the recent change in CDC guidance surrounding masks, we, at Hood Medicine Initiative, realize a reasonable level of confusion inevitably will exist among members of our community. Given the resistance of millions of Americans to get vaccinated, there is concern that lifting mask mandates, despite the clear science behind the decision, could result in unintended harm, particularly to marginalized communities- many of whom are essential workers.

The CDC’s interim recommendations for fully vaccinated people, released on 13 May 2021 include (“Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

  • Update that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance
  • Update that fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter

The guidelines were issued because:

[State science behind findings]

At Hood Medicine Initiative, we believe that in times like this , we must rely upon medical science, social science, and behavioral science to guide and make responsible choices.

Thus, we strongly urge states and corporations to maintain their mask mandates until at least 50% of all Americans are fully vaccinated. 

The US will reach herd immunity when 70% of the US population is fully vaccinated (at least two-weeks beyond their final vaccination dose). See: How Herd Immunity Protects Us

As of 6 a.m. EDT May 17, according to the CDC’s data tracker, a total of 122,999,721 Americans have been fully vaccinated, or roughly 37 percent of the country’s population.

  •  While science tells us fully vaccinated individuals are generally safe from contracting and spreading COVID to others, we know that too many Americans reject the science behind vaccinations and will not abide by the requirement to stay masked if they have not been vaccinated. 
  • While 50% vaccinated is not herd immunity levels, it is significant enough to give us confidence that the majority of people you encounter are unlikely to shed virus that could infect you, your unvaccinated children, or immuno-compromised family members.
  • Simply put:  We do not believe that the honor system will work in this current environment. We do not believe that a significant portion of this country can be trusted to concern themselves with the safety and welfare of others.

We believe in the work the CDC is doing.

Our ability to have faith in people, however, has been tested far too often to rely on the honor of our fellow Americans in an environment where a deadly global pandemic has been politicized.

We implore people to continue to wear their masks as we continue to educate those who are hesitant to get vaccinated and isolate those who resist the science.

Hood Medicine Initiative