Masking Confusion: CDC and States Do About-Face on Masks

Sarah E. Pawlicki and James B. Yates

mask with question mark being held at arm's length   On May 13, 2021, President Joe Biden announced the CDC was revising its guidance, saying that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask, either indoors or outdoors. Specifically, the new CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated individuals may resume activities as normal prior to the pandemic. A person is considered fully vaccinated if it has been at least 14 days since the person had the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC also announced that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask or practice social distancing in public unless required to by federal, state or local guidelines. For example, masks still are required in healthcare settings and on public transportation.

Ohio Mask Mandate

   Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the next day that Ohio also would be following the CDC’s guidance effective immediately. This caused some confusion because just two days earlier, Governor DeWine announced that all of Ohio’s public health orders would end on June 2, 2021. On May 17, 2021, an amended public health order was issued indicating that all fully vaccinated individuals “can resume activities without wearing a mask;” however, masks must be worn on all public transportation. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear face masks and practice social distancing. The amended public health order is effective until June 2, 2021, when most COVID-19 related health orders will be rescinded. 

Michigan Mask Mandate

   Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also responded to the CDC guidance and eliminated the outdoor mask mandate for all individuals and all other mask mandates for fully vaccinated individuals effective May 15, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. Unvaccinated individuals will continue to need to wear masks indoors until July 1, 2021. 

OSHA Guidance

   Finally, OSHA also has indicated that employers should follow CDC guidance with regard to masking and announced that it is in the process of updating its website to reflect the CDC’s guidance. The CDC, individual states and OSHA have all confirmed that employers and businesses may maintain their own requirements with regard to wearing facial coverings. Therefore, if a business chooses to continue a mask mandate, it may do so and individuals may choose to continue to wear masks. 

   As with most things related to COVID-19 (a.k.a. coronavirus), information and guidance changes rapidly. The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of 10:00 a.m. May 18, 2021. Additional updates will be provided as necessary. In the meantime, it will be nice to see smiling faces again! 

  Should you have any questions regarding how the mask mandates may affect your business, please contact Ms. Pawlicki or Mr. Yates. 



   At the date of publication, the above information was correct. It is quite possible the information above has changed as COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation. 

   The article in this publication has been prepared by Eastman & Smith Ltd. for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney/client relationship.