Lauri and Sofia Fisher shop on Central Street in Evanston. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

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As President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris close the chapter on their first 100 days in office, the President outlined new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on masks in advance of his address to a joint session of Congress on April 28.

The President acknowledged that “we still have a long way to go in this fight” against the virus that causes COVID-19, but he also noted that cases and deaths are down dramatically from when he took office on Jan. 20.

“Since Inauguration Day, we have given 215 million shots. Anyone 16 years of age or older is eligible to get the vaccine immediately. And because of the extraordinary progress we have made in fighting this virus, and the progress our scientists have made in learning about how it gets transmitted. … The CDC made an important announcement. Starting today, if you’re fully vaccinated, if you’re outdoors and not in a crowd, you no longer need to wear a mask.

“I want to be absolutely clear. If you’re in a crowd, like a stadium or a concert, you still need to wear a mask, even if you’re outside. Beginning today, gathering with a group of friends in a park … as long as you are vaccinated – you can do it without a mask.

“The bottom line is clear: if you’re vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors. So for those who haven’t gotten their vaccination yet, especially if you’re younger, or thinking you don’t need it, this is another great reason to get vaccinated now.

“Yes, vaccines are about saving your life – and also the lives of the people around you. They’re also about helping us get back closer to more normal living. … So go get the shot. It’s free and it’s convenient. … Ninety percent of the American people live within five miles of a site where you can get a vaccination.

“In the meantime, I urge all Americans, don’t let up now. Keep following the guidance,” he said.

Stay Vigilant and Get Vaccinated

Although the Biden administration has far exceeded their goal of 100 million shots by the President’s 100th day in office, the challenges presented by vaccine hesitancy along with highly contagious variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 make it imperative that everyone assume that current SARS-CoV-2 variants will likely continue to evolve and adapt.

In many instances and especially in states such as Illinois, where transmission rates remain high, Americans can help slow transmission of the coronavirus and avert further waves driven by the new variants by doing what they have been doing: using masks as recommended by the CDC, avoiding poorly ventilated areas, and practicing social distancing.

President Biden’s 100th day in office will conclude the RoundTable’s “Masked Person of the Day” photos, which began when the president announced on Inauguration Day that he would ask all Americans to mask up for his first 100 days in office. Many thanks to all those who have submitted photos.