More stores drop mask requirements; fully vaccinated people can limit testing, too: Latest COVID-19 updates

Yes, fully vaccinated people can mostly avoid masks.

But they can also limit testing for COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week said vaccinated people without symptoms mostly don’t need to get tested even if exposed to the virus. People who are fully vaccinated and don’t have symptoms also should not be randomly screened, the CDC said.

The CDC’s loosening of masking restrictions and updated testing guidance comes as large private employers and universities still routinely test vaccinated employees and students.

More than a dozen states have adjusted their mask-wearing rules since the CDC updated its guidance.

Also in the news:

►Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Costco will not require customers who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask, but none will require proof of vaccination. Other major major retailers and restaurant chains, like Starbucks, Target, CVS and Kroger, are keeping their mask requirements for now but said they will reevaluate policies. Keep track here.

► U.S. travelers are booking flights in record numbers. And if you’re planning to fly soon, you’ll want to prepare before jetting off on your own adventure. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect and how flying could impact your personal finances.

►Japan is further expanding a coronavirus state of emergency from six areas, including Tokyo, to nine as the government repeated its determination to hold the Olympics in just over two months.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 585,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 161.9 million cases and 3.3 million deaths. More than 341 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 268 million have been administered, according to the CDC. More than 120 million Americans have been fully vaccinated — 36% of the population.

📘 What we’re reading: As India reels from a new variant and a second wave of COVID-19, its health care system is overwhelmed. And so are its citizens, grappling with the physical, mental and emotional onslaught of caretaking and loss.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates. Want more? Sign up for our Coronavirus Watch newsletter for updates to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

‘Vaccine passports’ are coming, experts say

No shirt, no shoes, no vaccine — no service. That’s the future critics of “vaccine passports” fear as Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely live more normal lives, now including spending time in most indoors settings without a mask.

The notion that a “passport” could separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated has sparked fears of a dystopian future where a person’s health decisions would limit where they could travel, where they could shop, what events they could attend and whether they would be asked to wear a mask.

But many public health experts are exasperated by the controversy, given that Americans have long been expected to provide proof of vaccination in some circumstances.

“It’s not a new idea that you would document whether or not you’ve been vaccinated and share that information at certain points,” said Rebecca Fielding-Miller, a professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. “This is something we already do.” Read more here.

– Joel Shannon

Universal Orlando, Disney World say visitors still must wear masks on rides, indoors

Universal Orlando and Disney World both announced Friday that guests will no longer be required to wear masks while outdoors starting Saturday.

“Based on guidance from local government and health officials, effective Saturday, May 15, face coverings for guests are no longer mandatory when outdoors at Universal Orlando,” Tom Schroder, a spokesperson for Universal told USA TODAY.

On Friday, Disney updated the Disney World website with changes to the mask policy in Florida parks.

According to the Disney website, masks are needed: Upon entering and throughout all attractions; all theaters, including theater entrances; all transportation, including transportation entrances; and all indoor locations, including restaurants, except when actively eating or drinking while stationary.

– Morgan Hines

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