The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Tuesday (local time) to prevent further spread of the Delta variant in the United States, by mandating vaccinated people to wear masks in certain situations.
The recommendation urges fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors when in areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission of COVID-19, which includes nearly two-thirds of all US counties. “In recent days I have seen new scientific data from recent outbreak investigations showing that the Delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus that cause COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Tuesday (local time).
Soon after the announcement made by CDC, a statement issued by the White House stated that President Joe Biden and White House officials will resume wearing masks indoors when traveling to parts of the nation with high Covid transmission rates. “I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidelines will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas,” Biden said.
Tuesday’s regulations mean that even people who have been completely inoculated will once again need to mask up in public indoor spaces in parts of the country where the virus is ascendant.
In schools that plan to reopen this fall, health officials now recommended universal masking, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission of the virus, and additional precautions for staff, students and visitors. But they should still plan on returning to in-person learning.
Two months ago, the CDC told fully vaccinated people that they no longer needed to wear masks in most settings, and the White House had pitched the lead up to the July 4 holiday as a “summer of freedom” to celebrate progress made fighting the virus.
The Biden administration is set to recommend indoor mask use for anyone in areas of high transmission.
Cases have risen across the country in recent weeks with the spread of the delta variant, causing alarm among many public health experts that the US is regressing in its fight against the pandemic.
The US is on track to witness 200,000 daily COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, the former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director told CNN.
“We’re heading into a rough time. It’s likely, if our trajectory is similar to that in the United Kingdom, that we could see as many as 200,000 cases a day,” Tom Frieden said on Monday.
US President Joe Biden has issued a statement following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) masking guidance and said it is another step to defeat COVID-19.
In a statement, the President said: Today’s announcement by the CDC–that new research and concerns about the Delta variant leads CDC to recommend a return to masking in parts of the country–is another step on our journey to defeating this (COVID-19) 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.” 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 said.
Biden said the most important protection we have against the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. Although most US adults are vaccinated, too many are not. While we have seen an increase in vaccinations in recent days, we still need to do better.
“On Thursday, I will lay out the next steps in our effort to get more Americans vaccinated. Vaccinations are free, safe, and effective for every American. They’ve been available to every adult in this country for more than three months–at locations within 5 miles of 90 per cent of the US population,” he added.