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The latest guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which permits vaccinated individuals to forgo masks in public indoor spaces, creates a continued unnecessary risk of contracting COVID-19 for essential workers and must be revised, according to a letter submitted today to the CDC by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Thursday. 

The letter urges the CDC to immediately reinstate its guidance to require face coverings in collective settings, such as restaurants, retail shops, grocery stores, and public transit to ensure racial health disparities are not worsened.  

“The CDC must prioritize the health of front-line workers, who undoubtedly kept this country going over the past year,” said Pilar Whitaker, counsel with the Economic Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The latest guidance is irresponsible in that it is based on an honor system that leaves predominantly Black and Brown workers to merely trust that the maskless people they interact with are vaccinated. While vaccination rates are promising, the CDC has stated there are still many unknowns about vaccine efficacy against variants or even how long immunity lasts.”  

Essential workers need clearer and more practical guidance from the CDC to protect communities and ensure the country doesn’t return to a spike in infections and deaths.

In fact, essential workers face a higher rate of infection and exposure to COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic, essential workers had a 55% higher chance of contracting COVID-19 than people who could work from home.  Worse still, essential work is not only a predictor of COVID-19 illness, but severe infection and mortality too, also faced by many communities of color. Despite widespread vaccination efforts, only 37% of the United States population is fully protected from COVID-19, a figure that is as low as 3% in some counties.  

Read the letter here. 





About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.  For more information, please visit