The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in May that fully vaccinated individuals didn’t need to wear masks in most settings — but that guidance changed Tuesday in light of new data and rising cases.
Now even fully vaccinated Americans should wear masks indoors in areas of high COVID-19 transmission, according to the new guidance.
Although the majority of new infections in the U.S. are in unvaccinated people, “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. The new guidance was in part prompted by data showing that the highly-transmissible delta variant can be spread by vaccinated people, according to the CDC.
Since May, most states have backed off mask requirements for vaccinated people and some lifted their mask mandates for everyone. A few never had any requirements in the first place.
Ahead of the CDC’s announcement, several local governments — including Los Angeles County and St. Louis — began requiring vaccinated people to again wear masks, citing concerns about the delta variant.
Here’s where the states stand on mask requirements:
Alabama lifted its mask requirements in May when the state entered its third phase of pandemic health orders. The Safer Apart Order, which expired on May 31st, encouraged mask wearing and physical distancing but did not require any safety measures.
There is no mask requirement in Alaska, however the state recommends mask wearing in public spaces where physical distancing isn’t possible. This summer the state also opened its boarders to all travelers and is offering visitors a free COVID vaccine. Select airports have vaccination clinics so you can touchdown and get the shot in one trip.
Anchorage and Juneau, two of the state’s largest cities, implemented their own mask mandates for unvaccinated individuals but both were repealed in May.
Arizona has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions and barred its cities and counties from instituting any mask requirements that would conflict with the executive order. The order encouraged businesses, which are still allowed to enforce their own safety policies, to follow the recommendations of the CDC and federal government.
Arkansas dropped their mask requirements in April but a few of the state’s larger cities, including Little Rock, chose to keep their mask mandates. However an executive order by Gov. Asa Hutchinson that took effect in July prohibits all local governments from imposing mask requirements.
Fully vaccinated people are not required to wear masks in California except in some spaces, including public transit and health care facilities, where everyone is required to be masked. Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.
On July 18, Los Angeles reinstated a county-wide mask mandate in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. In response, Dr. Antony Fauci said, “If you’re looking at what’s going on locally, in the trenches, in places like LA county, the local officials have the discretion, and the CDC agrees with that ability and discretion capability.” Several counties in the Bay Area have followed suit in response to rising COVID cases.
Masks are required on Colorado public transportation for all individuals regardless of vaccination status. The state only requires unvaccinated individuals to wear masks in certain spaces such as medical facilities, prisons, and homeless shelters. However, the public health department encourages anyone who is unvaccinated to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces to prevent the spread of the virus.
Only unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks indoors. However, vaccinated people are also required to wear a mask on public transit, in schools, and in CDC recommended public spaces.
Mask mandates have been lifted for fully vaccinate people in the nation’s capital, although the city is still requiring everyone wear a mask in government buildings and in certain public spaces such as healthcare facilities, homeless shelters and detention cities.
Delaware lifted its mask requirements in May but still requires masks in state-owned buildings and on public transportation, as well as some other indoor public spaces, such as healthcare facilities. The state encourages unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals to continue wearing masks and taking precautions.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order suspending all city and county governments’ coronavirus emergency orders, including mask mandates. The order states that, “Florida will favor a presumption of commercial operation and individual liberty.” However, the order does not impact the policies of private businesses and the Florida Department of Education, so some spaces have maintained their restrictions.
Throughout the pandemic Georgia never instituted a state-wide mask mandate, but many local governments imposed their own. In April, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp removed many of the safety regulations imposed on businesses, including mask requirements for employees and distance between tables.
The city of Savannah reinstated a mask mandate after Mayor Van Johnson signed an emergency order on July 26 in response to a surge in cases.
Mask mandates remain for indoor spaces but masks are no longer required in Hawaii’s outdoor spaces.
Idaho never imposed a statewide mask mandate, but a number of cities that did have now lifted their requirements, including Boise and Sun Valley.
The state dropped its mask requirements for fully vaccinated people in June but is still requiring those who are unvaccinated to mask up indoors. Illinois is also maintaining that everyone be masked on public transportation and congregate facilities such as homeless shelters and detention centers.
Indiana repealed its statewide mask mandate in April and many cities have since done the same for their vaccinated residents. The city of Indianapolis still requires masks for unvaccinated individuals but the health department said they won’t “police” people on mask-wearing.
Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted mask mandates and social distancing requirements in February, ending Iowa’s four month long coronavirus measures. The mayor of Des Moines also ended their city-wide mask mandate in May.
Fully vaccinated Kansans are welcome to enjoy the indoors and outdoors mask free but unvaccinated individuals are still required to mask up indoors. Masks are still required of everyone in healthcare facilities and on public transportation. Douglas and Wyandotte counties maintained their local mask requirements.
There are no mask requirements in Kentucky as of June, but masks are still required in select locations, such as healthcare facilities, and for anyone who has either tested positive for COVID in the last 10 days or is exhibiting symptoms.
Louisiana lifted its mask mandate in May for anyone who is vaccinated except in certain settings such as educational and healthcare facilities. The state is still allowing local governments to institute safety mandates. The city of New Orleans is advising everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask when indoors.
There are no mask requirements in Maine after the state ended its state of emergency in June. However, the Maine CDC is recommending that anyone who is not fully vaccinated continue to wear masks indoors. They also encourage fully vaccinated citizens to consider wearing a mask indoors as an example to young children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
In May, Maryland ended all mask and social distancing requirements, except in select spaces such as healthcare facilities, homeless shelters and detention centers. Baltimore City maintained its local mask mandate but lifted it on July 1 as vaccination rates rose.
The Commonwealth has rescinded its mask mandate for everyone except when on public transportation or in certain facilities, such as hospitals, homeless shelters and detention centers. The state has also issued a mask advisory for unvaccinated individuals to continue practicing safety measures like wearing masks indoors and social distancing.
Michigan has lifted mask requirements for fully vaccinated people and is allowing everyone regardless of vaccination status to go mask-free in outdoor spaces.
When announcing the executive order, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said, “This pandemic has been one of the toughest challenges of our lifetimes, but we came together as a state to persevere.”
Minnesota lifted its statewide mask mandate for everyone but recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear masks indoors. Shortly after the statewide order ended on May 14, the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul lifted their mandates on June 1.
Mississippi began to phase out its coronavirus safety measures in March when it replaced state-wide mask mandates with a set of safety recommendations. Some cities maintained local mask mandates, including the Jackson capitol and Hattiesburg, which has since lifted its order.
Missouri lifted its mask mandate for everyone in outdoor areas in April and for fully vaccinated people in indoor areas in May. In July, the city of St. Louis reinstated its mask mandate in response to a growing number of cases. On July 26, the Attorney General of Missouri Eric Schmitt sued the city in an effort to strike down the mandate.
Gov. Greg Gianforte lifted Montana’s statewide mask mandate in February, something he promised his constituents the day after he assumed office on January 4. Many counties chose to maintain restrictions. However, on May 10 Gianforte signed legislation that nullified local mask mandates.
Nebraska transitioned its state-wide mask mandate to an advisory in April. Many cities, including Lincoln and Omaha, continued to enforce mask requirements but they expired in May.
Fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks indoors in Nevada. Only July 16, Clark County — where Las Vegas is located — issued a directive recommending all persons regardless of vaccination status wear masks indoors. The county is also requiring all employees wear masks indoors at their place of work from July 22 to August 17.
New Hampshire lifted its statewide mask mandate on April 16. The city of Lebanon maintained its mask mandate but rescinded the order on June 16, opting for a set of recommendations that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear masks.
In May, New Jersey ended its mask mandate for indoor and outdoor spaces, along with the state’s social distancing requirements and capacity limitations. There is no statewide vaccination requirement, but Gov. Phil Murphy in his executive order encouraged unvaccinated individuals to continue practicing safety measures. Face masks are still required for everyone in CDC recommended facilities and most state offices.
Fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks in New Mexico’s indoor and outdoor spaces. However, the state’s mask mandate is still in effect for those who are unvaccinated. Masks are required of everyone regardless of vaccination status in healthcare facilities, homeless shelters and other congregate places.
In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted the mask requirements in New York state for fully vaccinated people. Masks are still required for unvaccinated people and for every New Yorker in K-12 schools, on public transportation and the indoor gathering places specified by the CDC.
North Carolina lifted its mask mandate for most indoor spaces in May. The state is still requiring masks in schools, childcare settings, and camps, as most children are not yet eligible for the vaccine. In certain indoor spaces recommended by the CDC, masks are required of everyone.
North Dakota’s mask mandate expired in January, leaving restrictions in only a few cities and private businesses. In April, the state House passed legislation that would prohibit state officials, including the governor, from instituting mask mandates, shifting power to city and county governments.
Gov. Mike DeWine lifted Ohio’s mask mandate at the beginning of June and reminded all unvaccinated Ohioans of their duty to wear a mask indoors.
In July, the school boards in Columbus and Cleveland announced that all students would be required to wear masks at least during the first weeks of the school year. The decision received national attention from Delaware’s Sen. Andrew Brenner (R), who introduced a bill to prevent Ohio’s Department of Education and local schools boards from requiring masks.
During the pandemic, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt resisted pressure to implement a statewide mask mandate. Requirements in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the state’s two largest cities, expired at the end of April. With zero safety measures in most of the state, many local businesses have chosen to enforce private mask requirements on their patrons.
At the end of June, Gov. Kate Brown rescinded all COVID restrictions including mask mandates in Oregon. Masks are still required in healthcare facilities and the state is recommending that unvaccinated and immunocompromised individuals continue to wear masks at large gatherings and in crowded public settings.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health lifted statewide mask requirements in June. The announcement encouraged individuals who are not fully vaccinated to continue to wear masks in public settings. On July 22, Philadelphia health officials urged citizens, including those who are fully vaccinated, to consider wearing masks indoors as cases begin to rise.
Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Health requires unvaccinated individuals to wear masks in indoor public places and that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in healthcare facilities.
Rhode Island rescinded its mask mandate in early July but continues to require vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to wear face coverings in healthcare facilities. The health department recommends unvaccinated persons wear a mask in indoor publics spaces.
On May 11, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order prohibiting local governments and school districts from issuing mask mandates. The order also bans the state and local government from requiring individuals to provide proof of vaccination.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control encouraged those who are unvaccinated to continue wearing masks, but the recommendations are not enforced. “We are counting on all South Carolinians to use the honor system concerning their vaccination status,” the announcement read.
Gov. Kristi Noem never issued a mask mandate in South Dakota. Instead, during the pandemic, citizens were under recommendation by the Department of Health to wear face coverings “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order in April barring 89 counties from issuing mask requirements. Tennessee’s health department recommends residents wear masks in public settings, when around people not living in the same household and when social distancing measures are difficult.
Texas lifted its statewide mask mandate in March. In May, Gov. Greg Abbott banned counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities or government officials from requiring masks. But the state “strongly encouraged” residents to wear masks when not possible to maintain social distance with people not from the same household.
Utah lifted its statewide mask mandate in April but simultaneously passed a law allowing counties to issue their own mask requirements. The state recommends residents follow CDC guidance on when vaccinated and unvaccinated people must wear masks. The state has banned local school districts from implementing mask mandates in K-12 schools.
Vermont lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated people in May, with the mandate still in place for those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, including children. The state’s department of health recommends residents follow CDC guidance.
Virginia lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated people in most settings at the end of May and recommends people follow CDC guidance. The state gives local school districts the ability to make decisions on masking guidance.
Since the end of June, Washington has directed unvaccinated residents over five years old to wear face masks in most public indoor settings and outdoors when difficult to social distance. People who are fully vaccinated must wear masks in healthcare settings, in correctional facilities, in homeless shelters and at K-12 schools, childcare facilities, camps and other youth settings.
On July 23, the state’s top epidemiologist recommended everyone — regardless of vaccination status — wear a mask or face covering in crowded indoor places. Health officials in at least eight counties are recommending the same: King, Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, Clallam, San Juan, Grays Harbor and Jefferson.
West Virginia lifted its indoor face covering requirement for all residents, regardless of vaccination status, in June. The state’s department of health reiterates CDC mask guidance: People who are not fully vaccinated and fully vaccinated people with weakened immune systems should social distance and continue to wear masks in most settings.
At the end of March, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared the statewide mask mandate invalid and blocked Gov. Tony Evers from issuing any new public health emergency orders mandating face masks without the legislature’s approval. Several cities have since lifted their local mask mandates.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends people who are unvaccinated wear a mask “in all indoor spaces that are not your home, as well as enclosed or crowded outdoor spaces.” Everyone — regardless of vaccination status — should wear masks in healthcare settings, on public transport, in correctional and detention facilities and homeless shelters, and in places where masks are required by local or tribal laws.
Wyoming lifted its statewide mask mandate in March. In May, the Wyoming Department of Health recommended people who aren’t fully vaccinated wear masks in indoor public places “when common-sense physical distancing cannot be maintained among those who don’t live in the same household.”
Contributing: Grace Hauck, USA TODAY; The Associated Press