You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

CDC Reverses Guidance, Says Fully Vaccinated People Should Wear Masks Inside in Certain Areas

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 7/27/2021 Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder
a man holding a sign: NEW YORK CITY - JULY 27: A person wears a mask while walking in Grand Central Terminal on July 27, 2021 in New York City. Due to the rapidly spreading Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendedthat fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid-19 transmission rates. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) © (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) NEW YORK CITY - JULY 27: A person wears a mask while walking in Grand Central Terminal on July 27, 2021 in New York City. Due to the rapidly spreading Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendedthat fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid-19 transmission rates. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus should return to wearing masks in indoor public spaces in areas that are seeing substantial or high virus transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday in a major reversal of its guidance.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cited "worrisome" new data that shows that fully vaccinated individuals could spread the highly contagious delta variant if they experience a breakthrough infection.

"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 causes COVID-19," Walensky said on a call with reporters without providing details about the data. "Information on the delta variant from several states and other countries indicate that in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others."

Walensky said individuals can check the CDC's data tracker to see their community transmission on a county basis. Roughly 63% of U.S. counties are considered to have "high" or "substantial" transmission, according to CDC data.

When the CDC previously relaxed its masking guidance in May, many jurisdictions and businesses followed suit, shifting to a sort of honor system in which those who are not fully vaccinated were expected to continue masking. As the delta variant continued to spread, more experts pressured the agency to change its guidance.


Video: CDC reverses mask guidance for vaccinated Americans (Reuters)

As of just last week, Walensky stood by the previous guidance, saying "our guidance has been clear since we put it out several months ago, and that is: If you are unvaccinated, you should continue to wear a mask and protect yourself against others around you."

However, she added that "we are always looking at the data as the data come in" and that some individuals who are fully vaccinated can choose to mask up for "an extra layer of protection."

The agency on Tuesday also said the masking guidance for those who are fully vaccinated applies to grades K-12, recommending everyone inside school buildings wear masks regardless of vaccination status. It's yet another shift from roughly three weeks ago when the agency relaxed masking guidelines for fully vaccinated students and school staff. The previous guidance faced pushback from some, and the American Academy of Pediatrics followed by publishing its own guidelines to encourage masking in schools regardless of vaccination status.

"When we released our school guidance on July 9, we had less delta variant in this country. We had fewer cases in this country, and importantly, we were really hopeful that we would have more people vaccinated, especially in the demographic between 12 to 17 years old," Walensky said, adding that only 30% of individuals in the age group are fully vaccinated.

The guidance changes come as the delta variant makes up the majority of new coronavirus cases in the U.S., which is seeing an increase in infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Unvaccinated individuals should still wear masks indoors, according to CDC guidance.

Copyright 2021 U.S. News & World Report

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon