CDC Updates Mask Guidance Amid Delta Variant Threat

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As the Delta variant spreads across the US, the CDC has once again updated its mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.

Mask on? Mask off? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) constant updates to the mask guidance have left some people confused. In early March, it issued guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals; allowing them to unmask among themselves in indoor settings. Later, CDC updated its guidelines. This time CDC stated that fully vaccinated people can remove their masks in outdoor and most indoor settings. Even when around unvaccinated individuals.

Now, the CDC has once again updated its mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. The decision comes as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads across the country. The Delta variant, first discovered in India, has led to an increase in infections and hospitalizations worldwide. The highly transmissible virus currently accounts for more than 85% of cases in the United States.

Although a major proportion of hospitalized cases in the US, around 95%, have occurred in unvaccinated individuals, health officials have also observed breakthrough infections. Moreover, recent research has shown that vaccinated individuals infected with Delta variant have a similar viral load to unvaccinated ones

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. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations

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. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations – Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director

Vaccinated? Wear a Mask

A person is fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of a 2-dose vaccine, or 2 weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine.

The new guidelines state that fully vaccinated individuals should wear a mask in a public indoor setting, in ‘areas of substantial or high transmission.’ However, those at an increased risk of severe disease due to age or an underlying medical condition can wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in the area. Moreover, if an unvaccinated individual encounters a COVID positive person, they should get tested within 3-5days of exposure, even without symptoms.

In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor settings, to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant and protect others — this includes schools.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director

Although breakthrough infections have occurred, they are still relatively rare. Moreover, the current vaccines have shown great efficacy against the Delta variant in reducing severity and hospitalizations. Therefore, CDC is recommending people to continue getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in indoor settings.

The complete updated guidelines are available here.

Source: CDC

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