The Centers for Disease Control reversed course on an earlier guideline and announced that some vaccinated people will need to wear masks in some instances. The announcement comes as new data showed that vaccinated people may be able to spread the virus.
“It is not a welcome piece of news that masking is going to be a part of people’s lives who have already been vaccinated,” said Rachel Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, AP News reports. “The new guidance weighs heavily on me.”
According to the Washington Post, the CDC’s new guidance advises people who live in “high-transmission” communities to wear masks indoors, even if they have been vaccinated. It also calls on those who live with young children or someone who is immunocompromised to follow the same guidance.
While the CDC still believes school districts should return to in-person learning, they are calling for universal masking of teachers, staff, and students, regardless of vaccination status.
The CDC’s new decision reverses the advice they gave in May when the virus seemed to be under control and vaccinations appeared to be progressing. However, the low rate of vaccinations combined with the rampant spread of the Delta variant led to the change.
The Delta variant was first identified in India, and the first confirmed case in the United States was in February. The new variant appeared to be under control until cases skyrocketed in July. The United States averaged 13,000 cases per day at the beginning of July. That number had grown to 56,000 per day in the last week of July.
Experts recognize the frustration that people feel over the new guidance but also want citizens to know the danger they are facing. “Nobody wants to go backward, but you have to deal with the facts on the ground, and the facts on the ground are that it’s a pretty scary time, and there are a lot of vulnerable people,” explained Robert Wachter, who serves as chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
Wachter also summarized the current frustrations in the medical community, many of whom believe that the current surge was preventable. “I think the biggest thing we got wrong was not anticipating that 30 percent of the country would choose not to get vaccinated.
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Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”