You might need to start wearing a mask again even if you’re vaccinated

Jul 26, 2021

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering revising its mask guidance even for people who are vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, July 25.

Fauci cautioned that the country was headed in the “wrong direction” as the delta coronavirus variant spreads and vaccination rates fall.

“If you look at the inflection of the curve of new cases [among the unvaccinated] … and since we have 50% of the country [that’s] not fully vaccinated, that’s a problem,” Fauci said. Fauci said the mask guidance was “under active consideration.”

TPG reached out to the CDC and the White House but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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Fauci’s warning comes amid months of conflicting and, at times, contradictory advice from U.S. health professionals. CDC director Rochelle Walensky said last week that unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask but that the decision for fully vaccinated people to wear a mask was an “individual choice.”

The CDC earlier this summer said vaccinated individuals were “safe” from the delta variant and doubled down on its guidance that fully vaccinated Americans could go maskless. But the World Health Organization (WHO) in late June warned that even fully vaccinated individuals (those who received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior) should still wear a mask.

There’s also been pressure to impose a federal mask mandate. Several locations across the country have also reimposed mask requirements or recommended mask-wearing.

Los Angeles County, for example, announced in mid-July that all people — vaccinated or not — would be required to wear a mask indoors when in public. Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest by population, has recorded more than 1.2 million cases of the coronavirus and nearly 25,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker. Other areas of California recommended that everyone wear masks indoors at public places but stopped short of making masks a requirement.

And across the country, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy warned that if more residents didn’t get vaccinated, he would bring back a mask mandate.

The news comes as the delta variant becomes the country’s most dominant strain, and vaccination rates have plateaued. The delta variant now accounts for 83% of cases in the U.S., a figure Walensky called a “dramatic” increase from the week of July 3.

Vaccination rates have also plateaued from their peak in mid-April when more than 4.6 million doses were administered on April 10. According to The New York Times, just 600,000 people were vaccinated on July 23.

Featured photo by Thomas Tolstrup/Getty Images

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