facebook linkedin twitter

In a Reversal, CDC Says People In COVID Surge Areas Should Still Wear Masks

July 27, 2021 by Dan McCue
In a Reversal, CDC Says People In COVID Surge Areas Should Still Wear Masks
The headquarters for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. (AP Photo/ Ron Harris)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday afternoon said fully vaccinated people should now wear face masks if they live or work in a location experiencing a surge in delta variant cases.

The new guidance effectively reverses a recommendation from May, when the CDC said fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks, except in a few circumstances.

That guidance led to a national sense of normalcy for the first half of the summer, and particularly on the July 4th holiday.

Now, the CDC says fully vaccinated people should wear face masks in public, indoor settings in those parts of the country that have experienced a substantial or high level of transmission of the delta variant of COVID-19.

During a conference call with reporters, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the change was needed because new data suggests vaccinated people could transmit the virus to others on “rare occasions.”

“This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations,” Walensky said.

The new guidance follows recent decisions in Los Angeles and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that have been especially bad in the South and West.

The CDC also said all adults and students should wear masks in K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status.

The U.S. is currently averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

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

When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, Walensky said.

But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected, vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, she said.

Shortly after the CDC update, President Joe Biden described the new recommendation as “another step on our journey to defeating this virus.”

“I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas,” the president said.

“Today, the CDC also reaffirmed that we can safely reopen schools this fall—full time. Masking students is inconvenient, I know, but will allow them to learn and be with their classmates with the best available protection,” he added.

“Most importantly, today’s announcement also makes clear that the most important protection we have against the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. Although most U.S. adults are vaccinated, too many are not. While we have seen an increase in vaccinations in recent days, we still need to do better,” Biden said.

The president also said he will lay out “next steps” Thursday in regard to the administration’s efforts to get more Americans vaccinated. 

This afternoon, in addition to its other announcements, the CDC classified Washington, D.C. as having a substantial level of community transmission of the COVID variant.

Biden responded to that development by saying he is considering requiring all federal workers to get coronavirus vaccine as the delta variant surges.

“It’s under consideration right now, but if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were,” he told reporters.

In advance of the next guidance from the administration, the White House Correspondants Association on Tuesday reimposed its own mask requirement for all indoor spaces at the White House.

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Health

January 19, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Survey Reveals New Findings About Drug Affordability

A survey was released yesterday by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation that uses National Health Interview Survey... Read More

A survey was released yesterday by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation that uses National Health Interview Survey data to estimate that 3.5 million adults 65 and older had trouble paying for medications in 2019. According to the survey, more than 5 million Medicare... Read More

January 19, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
CBO Releases Report on Nationwide Spending on Prescription Drugs

The Congressional Budget Office released a report this week that examines trends in nationwide spending on prescription drugs over the 1980-2018 period,... Read More

The Congressional Budget Office released a report this week that examines trends in nationwide spending on prescription drugs over the 1980-2018 period, and provides a detailed analysis of trends in spending, use and prices in the Medicare Part D and Medicaid programs over the 2009-2018 period.  The report... Read More

January 19, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Biden Will Provide Free, High-Quality Masks to Americans

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced plans to provide 400 million free high-quality N95 masks to Americans starting next week.... Read More

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced plans to provide 400 million free high-quality N95 masks to Americans starting next week. According to a White House official, the effort is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history.  The masks will come from the Strategic... Read More

January 19, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Study Shows Herpes-Related Virus Likely Causes Multiple Sclerosis

A recent study finds that the Epstein-Barr virus, a member of the herpes virus family, is likely what causes multiple sclerosis. MS... Read More

A recent study finds that the Epstein-Barr virus, a member of the herpes virus family, is likely what causes multiple sclerosis. MS is a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system of 2.8 million people worldwide, but for a long time its etiology has been unknown. To... Read More

January 19, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Kaiser Mental Health Physicians Strike, Demand Culturally Competent Care

On Monday, according to information from the National Union of Healthcare Workers, nearly 200 mental health clinicians from Kaiser Permanente,... Read More

On Monday, according to information from the National Union of Healthcare Workers, nearly 200 mental health clinicians from Kaiser Permanente, a major health care company, took to the streets of Oakland, California, with demands for more culturally responsive care for communities of color. The strike was... Read More

January 19, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
AI-Based Risk Models May Change the Process of Breast Cancer Screening

A recent study published in Nature Medicine examines the role of AI in improving screening programs by advancing early detection of breast cancer... Read More

A recent study published in Nature Medicine examines the role of AI in improving screening programs by advancing early detection of breast cancer while reducing over-screening. Breast cancer is currently the most diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide, with 281,550 new cases of... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top