The CDC is expected to announce the return of mask mandates.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to announce that some people should again wear masks indoors, even if vaccinated. There were some exceptions, including mask mandates in healthcare settings. The announcement comes at a time in which the number of infections is again spiking across the nation due to the new, stronger Delta variant and a surge of Covid cases in areas with low vaccination rates.
The new mask guidance will likely apply to everyone in K-12 school settings and for people in areas of high transmission rates. It could affect 46% of counties with high transmission rates and 17% with substantial transmission rates, according to those who are familiar with the forthcoming news. Fewer than 50 percent of the country is fully vaccinated, according to federal data. Moreover, new scientific evidence has revealed that those who are vaccinated can still contract the virus.
“Nobody wants to go backwards but you have to deal with the facts on the ground, and the facts on the ground are that it’s pretty scary and there are a lot of vulnerable people,” said Robert Wachter, MD, chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California San Francisco.
School health officials are now recommending that everyone use masks regardless of vaccination status and transmission rates of the virus, and are taking additional precautions for staff, students, and others who are visiting. However, schools can still expect to return to in-person schooling come fall-time, experts say, unless and until guidelines change.
The Delta variant is twice as contagious as the original virus, according to the CDC, and continues to spread in all states. “The Delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us,” said CDC’s Director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky. “In rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with a Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others.”
President Joe Biden said recently that the pandemic was continuing to spread largely “because of the unvaccinated, and they’re sowing enormous confusion.” He added, “The more we learn, the more we learn about this virus and the Delta variant the more we have to be worried and concerned. There’s only one thing we know for sure, if those other hundred million people got vaccinated, we’d be in a very different world. So, get vaccinated, if you haven’t, you’re not nearly as smart as I said you were.”
Others believe that the CDC’s guidelines have been too confusing, in general, and should have been more streamlined from the beginning.
“The CDC should have simply made a universal recommendation and told all Americans to wear masks indoors,” said Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist at University of Washington and former CDC scientist. “The director said the guidance is for people in areas of high transmission, but if you look at the country, every state is seeing a rise in transmission. So why not say, ‘Everybody in the U.S. should be wearing a mask indoors?’ The whole country is on fire.”