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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to announce Tuesday that it is revising its mask guidance, returning to recommending masking indoors, even for fully vaccinated individuals, in certain circumstances. Most notably, the CDC is expected to announce that everyone in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask.
“In May, the CDC announced that vaccinated individuals were not required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, or physically distance, while maintaining that unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks and socially distance,” Fox News noted.
Tuesday’s announcement is expected to revise those recommendations, at least in part. At a press conference scheduled for 3 p.m. EST, the CDC’s Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to suggest that vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in certain areas of the country experiencing significant outbreaks of the COVID-19 Delta variant and that individuals who live with immunocompromised people and children under the age of 12 who cannot be vaccinated against the virus also mask up when in an indoor public location.
“People in areas with high or substantial Covid-19 transmission should resume wearing masks, the CDC is expected to say, according to sources familiar with the announcement,” CNN noted Tuesday. “Nearly two-thirds of US counties have high or substantial transmission of Covid-19, according to CDC data; 46% of counties have high transmission and 17% have substantial transmission.”
Most notably, the CDC is also expected to follow recommendations made by the nation’s largest teachers unions — the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association — and suggest that “everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status,” per CNN.
AFT president Randi Weingarten, who reportedly had a direct influence on CDC policy regarding a return to classrooms for in-person instruction, according to Fox News, has continued “to push for face masks to be worn in schools,” per Newsweek, even though nearly 90% of teachers who belong to the AFT are vaccinated.
The CDC’s mask guidance is designed to inform state and local governments, though Walensky did say that individuals “need to be wearing a mask to protect yourself and others around you” from the Delta variant at a CDC press conference held last week.
“We need more people to get vaccinated to stop this pandemic,” Walensky said. At the time, she also “warned that if individuals are in an area that has a high case rate and low rate of vaccination, ‘you should certainly be wearing a mask.'” according to Fox News.
“If you are unvaccinated, if you are vaccinated, you get exceptional protection from the vaccines, but you have the opportunity to make the personal choice to add extra layers of protection if you so choose,” Walensky said.
“If you are not vaccinated, please take the delta very seriously. This virus has no incentive to let up and it remains in search of the next vulnerable person to infect,” she continued. “Please consider getting vaccinated and take precautions until you do.”
So far, around 188 million Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.