The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday that fully vaccinated individuals should wear masks in certain indoor areas and advised universal masking for schools regardless of individuals’ vaccination status amid rising infections due to the delta variant. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky later said in a call with reporters that the decision to issue new guidance “was not something we took lightly,” but comes amid “worrisome” new science.
“In recent days, I have seen new scientific data from sequenced outbreak investigations showing that the delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus that cause COVID-19,” Walensky told reporters over a call. “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.”
“This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations,” Walensky said.
Walensky noted that vaccinated individuals represent a small percentage of new virus transmission and that the agency continues “to estimate the risk of a breakthrough infection with symptoms upon exposure to the delta variant is reduced by seven-fold.”
“The reduction is 20-fold for hospitalizations and deaths,” she said. “As CDC has recommended for months, unvaccinated individuals should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated.”
Per the new guidance, in areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of delta and protect others.
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