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For the first time in months, federal health authorities say that certain groups can take their masks off.

Fully-vaccinated individuals can take a breath of fresh air, mask-free, when indoors with other fully vaccinated individuals, officials said on Monday.


Vaccinated grandparents, many of which have been told to avoid their grandchildren for nearly a year, can also go maskless with low-risk individuals such as young and healthy people.

The news comes as vaccinations ramp up, albeit slowly, around the U.S. and case rates continue to drop.

It's a small relief, but it is significant. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has not recommended that individuals leave their masks behind since the start of the pandemic. Now over 11 months later, restrictions are being lifted across state lines.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has gone a step further in reversing previous statewide mask mandates effective on Wednesday, a move that many still consider premature. In Texas, 8.4% of the population is fully vaccinated, but Abbott cited lower hospitalization rates and record-high vaccine shipments in his decision to open up Texas.

The federal announcement still represents a minority as well, as more than 90% of Americans are still not fully vaccinated. According to the New York Times, scientists are still not sure how much vaccinated individuals can transmit the disease, so fully vaccinated individuals are still asked to keep masks on and continue to socially distance when in public to keep those who are unvaccinated safe.

"Fully vaccinated" individuals are those who have gone at least two weeks since their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two weeks since the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

While the end is not here, it could be in sight. According to the CDC, over 2 million doses are being given per day across the U.S.

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