CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidance, Says Some Vaxxed People Should Resume Wearing Masks
"The new science is worrisome and, unfortunately, warrants an update to our recommendations,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
The CDC said Tuesday that it recommends some fully vaccinated people to start wearing masks in public indoor spaces again, as the more highly transmissible Delta variant is causing COVID-19 outbreaks, primarily in states with low vaccination coverage.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says this updated guidance pertains to Americans if they are in areas experiencing a high or substantial level of community transmission
“This is not a decision that the CDC made lightly,” Dr. Walensky said at the briefing Tuesday. “It is not a welcome piece of news that masking is going to be part of people’s lives who have already been vaccinated.”
More than 63% of U.S. counties have a high or substantial level of community transmission as of July 27, according to the CDC.
The CDC also recommended that teachers, staff, students, and visitors should wear masks in schools, regardless of vaccination status. That brings the agency’s recommendation in line with that of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The updated guidance comes two months after the agency said fully vaccinated people can ditch masks and physical distancing during most indoor and outdoor activities, no matter the size of a surrounding crowd.
At the time, Dr. Walensky cited decreases in the daily averages of new COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, and deaths as reasons for recommending the fully vaccinated can drop most protective measures. But she also said the agency’s guidance could change depending on how the virus acted.
Now, the Delta variant accounts for more than 80% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to estimates from public health officials. Dr. Walensky said in “rare occasions, some vaccinated people with the Delta variant” could be contagious and transmit the virus to others.
“The new science is worrisome and, unfortunately, warrants an update to our recommendations,” Walensky said.
However, Dr. Walensky reiterated that the COVID-19 vaccines are working and still protect people from severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even with the Delta variant.
Nearly 58% of people who are eligible for the vaccine in the United States are fully vaccinated.
The CDC’s updated recommendations come after certain areas experiencing a surge in infections — including Los Angeles County and Provincetown, MA — have reintroduced mask mandates.
Revisiting mask mandates has already ignited political fights in the country. Missouri’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit Monday after St. Louis and St. Louis County said people 5 years and older need to wear masks in public indoor spaces.