Coronavirus: CDC relaxes mask-wearing guidelines for summer camps

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance Friday saying that children who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks while outdoors at summer camps, with some exceptions.

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Officials said children and summer camp staff members who are fully vaccinated would still need to wear masks outdoors where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules or regulations. Health officials continue to encourage that people who have yet to be vaccinated wear masks while indoors and out, including children as young as 2 years old.

“Although people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks, camp programs should be supportive of campers or staff who choose to wear a mask,” CDC officials said in the agency’s new guidelines. “Camps may also choose to continue to require masks for vaccinated and not fully vaccinated campers and staff in order to adhere to prevention strategies when it is difficult to tell who has been vaccinated or to set an example for not fully vaccinated campers.”

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Previously, the CDC advised that just about all people at camps should wear masks with only a few exceptions, like while they are eating, drinking or swimming. But that was before adults began getting vaccinations in December and before the U.S. government authorized Pfizer vaccinations for kids as young as 12 to 15.

In April, officials said children can play at summer camps, so long as they don’t get within 3 feet of one another.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Children can be within 3 feet of each other at summer camp, CDC says

As of Friday morning, nearly 5.9 million people under the age of 18 had gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to data from the CDC. About 2.1 million people in that age range have so far been fully vaccinated, officials said.

The CDC issued its latest camp guidance after announcing earlier this month that fully vaccinated Americans would no longer need to wear masks outdoors and in most indoor settings.

>> Related: Coronavirus: CDC eases mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated Americans

Some public health officials and others have criticized that announcement, partly because it seemed to conflict with other CDC guidance.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, wrote this week to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky that “parents, caregivers and immunocompromised patients across the country may now have to navigate a confusing patchwork of recommendations and requirements in order to keep themselves and their families safe.”

Nationwide, just under 50% of the total population has gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., according to numbers from the CDC. About 40% of the population -- 132.7 million people -- have so far been fully vaccinated.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Half of U.S. adults fully vaccinated, CDC data shows

Nearly 601,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Minnesota since the start of the pandemic, according to numbers from the state’s health department. About 7,400 people have died of COVID-19 in the state, according to officials.

>> Related: Coronavirus: New COVID-19 cases fall to lowest levels since last June

As of Friday afternoon, 33.2 million COVID-19 cases have been reported across the country, resulting in more than 593,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 169.1 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in 3.5 million deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.