The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today issued
a recommendation that even people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 should wear
masks while indoors in local areas with high transmission rates. The updated
guidance is aimed at combatting the spread of the now-dominant delta variant of
the virus, which has been shown to be transmissible by vaccinated carriers in
some cases, the CDC said.
The updated guidance reverses the CDC’s announcement in
May that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to mask while indoors and
the agency’s statements as recently as a week ago that it had no plans to
change that stance.
But data that since have come to light regarding the
transmissibility of the delta variant in certain cases by vaccinated people
necessitated today’s about-face, according to CDC director Rochelle Walensky.
“Today, we have new science related to the delta
variant that requires us to update the guidance regarding what you can do when
you are fully vaccinated,” Walensky said during a briefing on Tuesday
afternoon, noting that the move “was not a decision we at the CDC have
That new guidance is in effect for counties defined by the
CDC as having “substantial” or “high” transmission,”
meaning 50 or more new cases per 100,000 people over a one-week period. In such
areas, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, now are advised once
again to wear a mask while in indoor public spaces.
Walensky stressed that the CDC’s guidance is only a
recommendation and said the agency’s view is that any decision on mask-related rules
should be made by local governments with an eye on crafting the most effective
measures to reduce viral spread within a particular community. As to the
possibility of making similar indoor mask-wearing recommendations for areas
with lower transmission rates, “we’re not looking at that right now,”
the CDC head said.
In recent weeks, some major U.S. counties, including Los
Angeles and Clark County, Nev., have re-enacted mandates requiring all
individuals to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. The LA
County mask requirement is in effect for the American Lodging Investment Summit,
which is being held this
week at the JW Marriot in Downtown Los Angeles and is expected to draw a
total of nearly 1,800 attendees.
Meanwhile, the CDC continues to require all passengers to
wear masks while “on conveyances or in transportation hubs,”
referring to airplanes, trains, airports and train stations. Recently released
results from a
survey by the International Air Transport Association showed that while
travelers were overwhelmingly supportive of airline mask requirements, a majority
felt that the rules should not remain in place for longer than necessary.