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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky told "Fox News Sunday" that political pressure had nothing to do with the agency's sudden announcement that fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks in most indoor settings.

Why it matters: Emerging evidence shows vaccinated people are less likely to transmit the virus, as COVID-19 cases and deaths drop. But the responsibility to uphold the abrupt policy change falls to individuals and businesses.

What she's saying: "I can tell you it certainly would have been easier if the science had evolved a week earlier and I didn't have to go to Congress making those statements, but I'm delivering the science as the science is delivered to the medical journals," Walensky told Fox News' Chris Wallace.

  • The agency's guidance change came just days after Walensky, during a Senate hearing Tuesday, defended the CDC's guidelines at the time telling all Americans to wear masks.

State of play: "This was not permission to shed masks for everybody, everywhere," she told NBC's Meet the Press. "This was really science-driven individual assessment of your risk."

  • "If they are vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are safe. If they are not vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are not safe."
  • "We're not counting on vaccine mandates at all. It may very well be that local, local businesses, local jurisdictions will work towards vaccine mandates. That is going to be locally driven and not federally driven," Walensky said.

Go deeper: New CDC mask guidance tests risk tolerance

Go deeper

May 16, 2021 - Health

CDC says schools should still universally require masks and physical distancing

Kids at Sunkist Elementary School in Anaheim, Calif. wear masks and physically distance while in class. Photo: Paul Bersebach/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance for K-12 schools Saturday, noting that reopened schools should "require universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing."

Why it matters: The clarification comes after the CDC's announcement Thursday that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or physically distance indoors or outdoors.

Of note: On Friday, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said that children younger than 12 probably won't be vaccinated until the end of 2021, and will need to wear masks at school this fall.

May 16, 2021 - Health

Franklin Graham would help Biden persuade evangelicals on vaccines

The Rev. Franklin Graham would be happy to work with the Biden administration on encouraging evangelicals to get COVID vaccines, he told "Axios on HBO."

  • "I would work with the Biden administration. I would work with the CDC. I would work with all of 'em to try to help save life," he told Axios' Mike Allen.

Why it matters: Evangelicals have expressed high levels of vaccine hesitancy.