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The risk of transmitting COVID-19 outside is still minimal, even with delta variant, CDC says

The CDC is recommending that fully vaccinated people wear a mask inside in certain situations based on new evidence regarding the delta variant.

AUSTIN, Texas — The delta variant of COVID-19 is causing a rise in cases across the U.S., and Austin-area health officials say it's more severe and contagious than any other strain of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that even fully vaccinated people wear a mask inside in certain situations based on new evidence regarding the variant. But what about outside?

The risk for transmitting COVID-19 outside is minimal, according to the CDC. It says fully vaccinated people generally do not need to wear a mask outdoors but could choose to wear one in a “crowded outdoor setting” if someone they live with is immunocompromised.

In areas with high case numbers, the CDC recommends unvaccinated people wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings. Generally, though, unvaccinated people do not need to wear a mask outside, according to the CDC.

The coronavirus is spread by droplets and particles that can land on people’s eyes, nose and mouth or be breathed in. However, when you’re outside, fresh air is constantly moving and can disperse the droplets, according to the Mayo Clinic.

So, if you’re outside braving the Texas heat, you’re less likely to come in contact with the respiratory droplets that contain the virus, including the delta variant.

Preliminary evidence from the CDC suggests that fully vaccinated people can spread the delta variant to others.

Under Stage 4 of its risk-based guidelines, Austin-Travis County recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask at private outdoor gatherings. Unvaccinated people are encouraged to avoid all outdoor settings where they can't be six feet apart and always mask up. 

In general, the CDC says people who are not six feet apart are “most likely to get infected.” It recommends unvaccinated people continue to social distance, even when outside.


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