CDC stands firm on mask guidance despite surge of Delta COVID-19 variant

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Thursday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is standing firm for now with its guidance  that only unvaccinated people need to wear masks to be safe, and vaccinated people are able to go without. Last May, the CDC said that vaccinated people could safely go without masks indoors, citing evidence that people who are fully immunized are unlikely to get sick and unlikely to spread the virus. However since then, the new “Delta” variant of the virus has spread rapidly across unvaccinated pockets of the U.S., once again overwhelming health care workers who say victims of the delta variant are younger and have become sicker. On July 9 the CDC issued guidance for schools, which calls on any unvaccinated staff and students to wear masks. Kids under 12 don’t yet qualify for the vaccine.

Walensky said “we are always looking at the data as the data come in. But CDC mask guidance hasn’t changed and that — for now — there’s no need. Fully vaccinated people are protected from severe illness, and we’ve always said that communities and individuals to make the decisions that are right for them based on what’s going on in their local areas.”  She later added: “In areas that have high and low amounts of vaccination … if you’re unvaccinated, you should absolutely be wearing a mask. If you’re vaccinated, you have exceptional levels of protection from that vaccine, and you may choose to add an extra layer of protection by putting on your mask and that’s a very individual choice.”

Later on Thursday, President Joe Biden said:“We follow the science. What’s happening now is all the major scientific operations … are looking at all the possibilities of what’s happening now,” he said. “We have a pandemic among the non-vaccinated — those who are not vaccinated.”

Editorial credit: bear_productions / Shutterstock.com

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