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COVID-19: CDC Updates Guidance On Masks Indoors, In Schools As Delta Variant Spreads

A sign posted at a store stating its mask policy, saying masks are optional for those fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
A sign posted at a store stating its mask policy, saying masks are optional for those fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Photo Credit: Daily Voice

With the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus rapidly spreading across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating its guidance on wearing masks.

As the more transmissible Delta variant becomes the dominant strain of COVID in the US, the CDC is now recommending that fully-vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas where there could be “substantial and high” transmission of the virus.

The new guidance also recommends that students, teachers, and staff members in K-12 classes wear masks when they return to the classroom in the fall, even if they've been vaccinated, until the variants are under control.

In May, the CDC announced that vaccinated Americans were not required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, or physically distance, while maintaining that unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks and socially distance. 

However, the agency backtracked on Tuesday, July 27, according to multiple reports, and is now expected to advise that even vaccinated people wear masks while in crowded indoor settings such as public transportation, in hospitals, prisons, homeless shelter, or other places where there is a large congregation of people.

According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Delta variant “is spreading with incredible efficiency” and now represents more than 83 percent of new cases of the virus.

Most new infections in the US continue to be among unvaccinated people. But “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people, health officials said.

“We need more people to get vaccinated to stop this pandemic," Walensky said recently, warning that if anyone is in an area that has a high COVID-19 case rate and low rate of vaccination, "you should certainly be wearing a mask."

“If you are unvaccinated, if you are vaccinated, you get exceptional protection from the vaccines, but you have the opportunity to make the personal choice to add extra layers of protection if you so choose.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the delta variant has changed the nation’s COVID-19 outlook since the CDC relaxed masking recommendations.

“That is their job,” she said. "Their job is to look at evolving information, evolving data, an evolving historic pandemic and provide guidance to the American public.

“What has not changed,” she added, “is the fact that people who are vaccinated have a huge deal of protection from serious illness, from hospitalization and from death.

"The reality is you're dealing with a much different strain of this virus than we were even earlier in the spring back in May.” 

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