DES MOINES, Iowa — Mayor Frank Cownie ended Des Moines’ face mask mandate on Friday, following the CDC’s eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people.
The CDC on Thursday announced that fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. Cownie initially implemented the mask requirement for Des Moines last August, and its repealing goes in effect immediately.
“I want to thank our residents, business owners and visitors for understanding the importance of this authorization and for adhering to the rules. Your diligence helped keep us safe and healthy,” Cownie said. “It has been a long and challenging road for us these past 14 months but now we are nearing the corner. That is why we will follow the recommendations of the CDC and immediately loosen the restrictions in Des Moines.”
Cownie also strongly encouraged that people get a COVID-19 vaccine but said non-vaccinated people are not required to wear face coverings in public.
“What’s more important right now is that everyone gets vaccinated. While we are seeing a decrease in COVID hospitalizations, 99% of those hospitalized were not vaccinated. Science and medicine are very clear about this – vaccinations work and will lead us to recovery from this pandemic,” Cownie said.
More than 300,000 people in the Des Moines metro have been fully vaccinated, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, including nearly 185,000 people in Polk County.
The CDC’s new guidance still recommends people wear masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. However, anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in most indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.