Desert cities see light at the end of pandemic as CDC reveals new guidelines

Medical Face mask Illustrative photo concept

Yulia Shaihudinova

Photo courtesy of Yulia Shaihudinova/Getty images.

On April 27, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rolled out new guidelines for activities allowed now that more individuals are getting vaccinated. The most notable update has come in the form of attending small outdoor gatherings without having to wear a mask.

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals who are completely vaccinated can now partake in outdoor activities so long as they still abide by social distancing guidelines that dictate a spacing of a minimum of 6 feet.

The more lenient facemask guidelines also require that outdoor activities without a mask are only allowed in small group settings. Under the new guidelines, individuals could not take off their masks in venues such as concerts, bars or restaurants unless they were actively eating or drinking.

A fully vaccinated person is identified defined as someone who has waited “2 weeks after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single dose Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine”, according to the CDC website.

Earlier this week, the CDC had also released travel guidelines for those who were fully vaccinated. 

Fully vaccinated individuals are allowed to travel within the United States and do not need to get tested for COVID-19 unless their destination requires it. 

These loosened travel restrictions still require travelers to follow CDC guidelines for traveling safely including:

  • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Staying 6 feet from others and avoiding crowds
  • Washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer

Hours after the CDC updated its mask guidelines, California Gov. Gavin Newsom stated on his Twitter account, ” CA will be aligning with the new CDC guidelines. If you are fully vaccinated, outdoors, and not in large crowds– you do not need to wear a mask.”

In the same post, Newsom also stated that California has “administered over 29 million vaccines and has the lowest positivity rate in the nation”.

The California Department of Public Health has tracked California’s progress in fighting the COVID pandemic. On April 27, California has had more than 3 million total cases and has administered 28,682,914 vaccines, just short of the number Gov. Newsom boasted in his tweet.

However, the numbers do reflect a trend pointing towards the end of the pandemic for California. The Golden State now averages 4.6 new cases per every 100k people and 0.1 coronavirus deaths per 100k. At the peak in January, California experienced 100 new coronavirus cases and approximately 2 deaths per day.

On the county level, California counties have been moving through the colored tier system that the state government implemented at the beginning of the pandemic as a blueprint to guide regions to reduce their COVID-19 cases.

There are 13 counties in the red tier from the latest report, which is the most restrictive. Forty-one counties are in the orange tier, which allows for indoor food operations, and only 4 counties are in the yellow tier, which is the least restrictive.

The latest COVID-19 numbers from Riverside County also reflect these trends. In recent weeks, Riverside County has moved from the red tier to the less restrictive yellow tier, which requires the county to meet certain requirements to see fewer restrictions. 

As of now, Riverside County is reporting an average of 3.9 new cases per day per 100,000 people, a 2.1% positivity rate on a 7-day average. Riverside County is just above the required metrics to enter the less restrictive yellow tier. 

To enter the yellow tier, Riverside County would have to report less than 2 daily new cases for every 100,000 people in the county and have a positivity rate of less than two percent. 

In the Coachella Valley, the latest COVID-19 numbers show even better signs of a comeback from the pandemic. The latest report from the City of Palm Springs indicates that there have been only 84 positive cases from around the Coachella Valley and only reported 2 covid related deaths. 

On July 1 of 2020, the City of Palm Springs placed a mask mandate within the municipality to stop the spread of the virus, which gave residents and tourists guidelines on facemasks. According to a KESQ, a Palm Springs city official had told them that Palm Springs would follow the new CDC guidelines and are currently looking into reviewing options and making changes in the coming days.

The new guidelines, along with the news of schools starting to require students to be vaccinated, may mean that in-person instruction is coming to campuses soon. 

For more information on the new CDC guidelines, visit 

For information on California COVID-19 numbers, please visit