CDC updates outdoor mask wearing guidance; Dakota Relays still ‘expecting’ masks Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Bring on the outdoor summer fun.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for mask use outside. The CDC’s recommendations vary for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, but CDC Director Rochelle Walensky pointed out less than 10% of coronavirus spread has been documented in outdoor settings as the main reason behind updated recommendations. 

The CDC’s announcement doesn’t change much in South Dakota. Sanford Vice President Medical Officer Dr. Michael Wilde noted people have been making choices about his or her own life each day. But Dr. Wilde stressed the CDC, a science-based agency, can only make changes after evidence is scientifically proven. 

“The virus doesn’t spread real well outside and that does appear to be based on some newer evidence,” Dr. Wilde said. “These changes to me really reflect evidence as it evolved and as it came out.” 

Avera Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Elliott also noted the CDC could not make guidelines based on assumptions. 

“It’s taken a little time to do the studies to actually prove what we assumed was right six months ago,” Dr. Elliott said. “Now we’ve got the science to prove it and support these new recommendations.” 

Dr. Elliott said large outdoor gatherings still pose a potential risk, but added much depends on the vaccine rollout. 

“The goal is to get people protected so large gatherings will be safe again,” Dr. Elliott said.  

Dakota Relays still expecting masks; Levitt, SEBA have no restrictions from city

For some outdoor-based gatherings and activities, Tuesday’s announcement by the CDC was welcomed news ahead of the summer season. 

Levitt at the Falls Executive Director Nancy Halverson said the Levitt is a city park, which would fall under any city guidelines. 

“We are happy to see the CDC is actually giving their blessing and saying it’s safer outside,” Halverson said. “We are so excited.” 

On Thursday, the Levitt will release its summer schedule of 40 bands, putting on free concerts from June 11 to September 11. 

“We got some great bands,” Halverson said. “We’re ready for people to come and enjoy the music.” 

The Sioux Empire Baseball Association told KELOLAND News in a statement Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation has moved to an “assumption of risk” model, which means there will be no spectator limits and no mask requirements for spectators, participants or officials.  

“2020 was a very difficult season for everyone who chose to participate in baseball and we are very excited for a return to normalcy within our programming,” the statement said. “The CDC’s announcement today has no real impact on the approach that we were planning to take.”

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One large outdoor gathering taking place this weekend at Howard Wood Field is the Dakota Relays track meet. Masks will still be expected at the event, organizers said.

In a statement to KELOLAND News, the Dakota Relays Board of Directors said it acknowledged the mask guidance changes for small gatherings. 

The no mask guidance does not apply to large outdoor events and unvaccinated people, and with the Dakota Relays being a large outdoor gathering, masks will still be expected.

Dakota Relays Board of Directors

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