The guidance was a seemingly abrupt reversal from guidance the agency issued in April when it eased mask-wearing guidelines for the outdoors. Under those recommendations, Americans who were fully vaccinated did not have to cover their faces unless they were in large crowds.
A month later, the CDC eased its guidance further for the fully vaccinated, saying that mask-wearing was not absolutely necessary in crowds and in most indoor settings.
The guidance still recommended that masks be worn in crowded indoor settings, like buses, planes, and hospitals but it cleared the way for reopening workplaces and other venues. Additional guidance said fully vaccinated people did not have to wear masks at schools.
These recommendations came as deaths and hospitalizations were on the decline. But then the delta variant hit. At the beginning of summer, a mutated more transmissible version of the coronavirus began spreading across the country, especially in areas with low vaccination rates.
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