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Infectious disease expert expects health agencies to relax outdoor mask guidelines

PITTSBURGH — When you’re out and about in the city, you can see plenty of people abiding by the state mandate of universal masking, even when outdoors. Infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja feels wearing a mask when outdoors could soon be a thing of the past.

“The public health guidance has to be based on science, and science is telling us that outbreaks in outdoor settings and transmission in outdoor settings is extremely rare,” Adalja said. “Running, jogging, walking down the street and transiently passing by somebody, there’s no benefit in my mind to wearing a face covering in those situations.”

Some people said they’re on board with easing the mask rules.

“That would be okay with me, as long as you carried one around with you so when you became close to someone, that you would put it on,” said Vince Dish.

Others prefer to play it safe.

“It’s a horrible disease. I lost a brother to it, so whenever you know somebody who has contracted it, you’re more cautious about every single thing that you do,” Carolyn LaQuatra said.

But is the state going to relax the rules any time soon? State officials simply pointed to wearing a mask to protect yourself and those around you in accordance with the current rules.

Adalja said lifting the order could be a good first step to getting our lives back to normal.

“As more and more people are getting vaccinated, as we get into summer and more mask mandates evaporate around the country, I do think the first baby step toward doing that is looking at mandates for outdoor settings and starting to be flexible with them,” he said.