As the highly transmissible Delta variant increases, accounting for more than 83% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sticking to its current mask guidelines.
The CDC and health officials continue to say masking is necessary for unvaccinated people, but not for people vaccinated in most indoor environments, according to.
Responding to questions posed Thursday during the White House COVID-19 response briefing on whether they plan to change the policy, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said: “We are still reviewing the data as it unfolds. as they arrive. ”
“Our advice has been clear since we published it several months ago,” she continued. “And that is, if you are not vaccinated, you have to continue to wear a mask and protect yourself from others around you, and more importantly, you have to go get vaccinated to get better. layers of protection. “
Walensky added that vaccinated people have “exceptional levels” of protection against COVID-19, but it is still their “individual choice” if they want to wear a mask if they live in a community with a high prevalence of the virus.
The question arose after a Washington Post report claimed that senior White House and administration officials were debating whether to urge vaccinated Americans to wear masks in certain settings due to the rise of the Delta variant.
A federal health official, however, told CBS News that the CDC has no plans to update its mask guidelines.
“There are no plans to change the guidelines… the guidelines are not going to change,” the official said. “Unless there is some really compelling science that we don’t yet know that is emerging, there is simply no plan to change directions.”
The official stressed that the current guidelines “give state and local health services the flexibility they need depending on this situation in their region to incorporate mask mandates if they feel the need.” The official pointed out that COVID-19 transmission rates vary across the country, and current CDC guidelines take this into account.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said the administration would continue to “follow the science” and CDC recommendations on mask advice, a sentiment echoed by the White House .
White House Deputy Press Secretary Kevin Munoz said in a statement: “Public health advice is set by the CDC and they continue to recommend that fully vaccinated people not wear a mask. are not vaccinated, you should wear a mask. “
Dr Anthony Fauci acknowledged that there are virus infections among those vaccinated, but said that does not mean the vaccine is a failure. Almost all deaths from COVID-19 infection now occur in unvaccinated people.
“This does not in any way mean that you are dealing with an unsuccessful vaccine. The success of the vaccine hinges on preventing the disease,” Fauci said Thursday.
For the first time since January, COVID-19 cases were on the rise in all 50 states earlier this week. Walensky called the Delta variant one of the most infectious respiratory viruses she has seen in her career.