Tuesday July 27, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Recommended that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public spaces in communities where cases of covid are increasing.
Along with the new policy, the CDC recommends that children in Kindergarten to Grade 12 attend school in person while continuing to wear masks indoors.
Why is the CDC making this change?
The announcement follows an increase in infections with the delta variant, the highly infectious strain of covid that was first detected in India earlier this year. The new policy may seem like a step backwards, but Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, explained that the agency’s decisions are not taken lightly.
“Our advice and recommendations will follow the science,” Walensky said at a press briefing. “The Delta variant shows its willingness every day to outsmart us and be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a stronger response against it.”
In May, delta was responsible for only 2% of sequenced cases in the United States, but today 82% of samples contain the most contagious variant, according to John hopkins.
Does this change affect me?
Probably (if you live in the United States). Over 63% of the United States is experiencing what the CDC calls “substantial transmission rates,” which means the new policy would apply there. To find out if you live in an area where covid is exploding, visit the CDC Covid Data Tracker, which tracks infections by county.
(If you are not fully immunized, this may not be a big change, depending on where you live. EUnited States, including California, New York and Nevada, have already asked unvaccinated people to mask themselves.)
How does the delta variant spread?
The CDC believes unvaccinated individuals are behind this spread. But rarely do vaccinated people also get sick and can pass the infection on, although their cases are likely to be much less severe. Earlier in the pandemic, a person with covid could infect 2.5 more on average. But with the delta variant, an infection causes an average of six more.