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CDC issues new recommendations for fully vaccinated people

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New federal COVID-19 guidelines released on Monday say that it is okay now for fully vaccinated Americans to gather indoors with other vaccinated individuals without masks or social distancing.

With a small group of fully vaccinated Americans having grown since January, so have calls for new guidance for such people. Monday’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the first for fully vaccinated people.

“With more and more people vaccinated each day, we are starting to turn a corner,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a White House COVID-19 press briefing Monday morning, announcing the new guidance.

“The recommendations issued today are just a first step,” Walensky said. “Fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or physical distancing.”

RELATED: CDC Director: Vaccinating teachers ‘not a prerequisite’ for safely reopening schools

However, the CDC director added, it’s important for vaccinated people to “please keep wearing a well-fitting mask” in most other settings.

Along with that, the CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals keep avoiding large gatherings and practicing social distancing.

Furthermore, the CDC is saying that vaccinated individuals should get tested if they notice they have symptoms possibly related to COVID-19.

Officials say a person is deemed fully vaccinated two weeks after getting the second and final dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Around 9% of Americans, which is about 30 million people, have been fully vaccinated so far with a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the federal government, according to the CDC.

Aside from it being deemed safe for fully vaccinated people to gather indoors with others who are vaccinated, the new guidelines said that such individuals can also visit “with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing” and refrain “from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic”.

On top of all that, the new guidance said that fully vaccinated grandparents can now visit their unvaccinated children and grandchildren, though with some caveats.

“Fully vaccinated grandparents can visit indoors with their unvaccinated healthy daughter and her healthy children without wearing masks or physical distancing, provided none of the unvaccinated family members are at risk of severe COVID-19,” the guidance said.

However, those kinds of no-mask interactions should only be limited to one unvaccinated household for safety reasons.

“Continuing the example from above, if fully vaccinated grandparents are visiting with their unvaccinated daughter and her children and the daughter’s unvaccinated neighbors also come over, the visit should then take place outdoors, wearing well-fitted masks, and maintaining physical distance (at least 6 feet),” the guidance added. “This is due to the risk the two unvaccinated households pose to one another.”

Although, Walensky said that the CDC has not updated its travel guidance yet.

“We would like to give the opportunity for vaccinated grandparents to visit their children and grandchildren who are healthy, and who are local, but our travel guidance currently has been unchanged,” the CDC director said Monday, emphasizing that “the travel corridor is a place where people are mixing a lot,” and that COVID-19 strains are circulating, both domestically and internationally.

“We’re hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them,” Walensky also said.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Economy

Biden Administration Expands Obamacare Coverage for ‘Dreamers’

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Friday morning the Biden administration announced it is expanding health-care access for “Dreamers”, a select group of illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. Illegal immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be granted access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to the White House. Beginning in November, DACA members will be able to apply for healthcare coverage on healthcare.gov and state level insurance marketplaces.

“I’m proud of the contributions of Dreamers to our country and committed to providing Dreamers the support they need to succeed,” President Joe Biden said in a prepared statement. “And that’s why today we are taking this historic step to ensure that DACA recipients have the same access to health care through the Affordable Care Act as their neighbors.”

National Review notes Biden was vice president when then-president Barack Obama created DACA through executive order over a decade ago. The program gives deportation protections and work visas to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. An estimated 580,000 people are enrolled in the program. Former president Donald Trump failed to put an end to DACA during his term and the program continues to be fought in court.

Over 100,000 DACA beneficiaries will purchase health insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace and Basic Health Program created by the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates. Access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will not be incorporated into the White House’s new rule after Biden proposed doing so last year, according to National Review.

“Now as Vice President, I have worked alongside President Biden to take steps to preserve and fortify DACA. Today, we are building on this progress by ensuring DACA recipients also have access to affordable health care, which will improve the health of all communities,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a prepared statement. “This announcement will bring relief to more than 100,000 people and help them thrive while working to achieve their aspirations.”

The White House did not share a cost estimate for the expansion of Obamacare to DACA recipients. They will be eligible for financial assistance to help them afford the health insurance DACA enrollees are now eligible to purchase.

Biden called for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and to give Dreamers permanent citizenship. It’s unlikely that Congress will grant Biden’s wishes, given the failure of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration package earlier this year. Conservatives widely rejected the Senate’s proposal for not being tough enough on the southern border at a time when record levels of illegal immigrants are entering the country.

Immigration is a top issue for voters in the 2024 election because of the surge in border crossings under Biden’s watch. Polls indicate that Americans believe that Trump is better suited to handle the crisis at the southern border with his hardline approach.

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