The rapid expansion of the Delta variant led the United States health authorities on Tuesday to recommend that those vaccinated take indoor mask in most of the country, in addition to schools.
Two and a half months later of advising those who had received the full schedule of covid-19 vaccines to go without a mask most of the time, including indoors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, in English) they changed their guidelines.
“Wear a mask it will have to be part of the lives of people who have already been vaccinated “, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a telephone press conference.
The new CDC guidelines, which do not imply a mandate but rather they are only recommendations, indicate that fully vaccinated people should wear a mask “in public places and indoors” if they are in areas with “high or notable” rates of infection of covid-19, Walensky explained.
Two-thirds of the counties
Almost two-thirds of the counties in the United States – 63% – meet these characteristics, including some entire states, such as those of Florida, Louisiana and Arkansas, according to CDC data.
46% of the country’s counties have a “high” level of infections -with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people in the last week-, while 17% have a “notable” incidence -with between 50 and 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants-, according to the criteria of the CDC.
Americans vaccinated with the full schedule they can check the state in which their county is located on the CDC website and assess whether they should start wearing a mask indoors.
A decision made “with regret”
Although the CDC guidelines are not mandatory, they tend to set trends and influence the actions of the authorities state and local.
For that, and because just a few weeks ago all the messages from the CDC pointed towards a gradual return to normality, Walensky assured that it had “weighed a lot” to have to change the recommendations.
However, he found it necessary to do so after reviewing new “worrying” studies, which indicate that “in exceptional cases, some of the people vaccinated and infected with the Delta variant can be contagious “, explained.
The official clarified that, according to CDC estimates, covid-19 vaccines make it “seven times” less likely to catch it of the Delta variant and experience symptoms, and “twenty times” less likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease, compared to the unvaccinated.
US President Joe Biden said the new CDC guidelines, coupled with an increase in vaccinations, will allow the country “Avoid school closures, lockdowns, closures and other setbacks “experienced in 2020.
“I hope that all Americans living in the areas covered by the CDC guidelines will follow [las recomendaciones], I of course I will do it when I travel to those areas “, Biden said in a statement.
It remains to be seen whether the president you will wear a mask in your day to day at the White House, Although the vice president, Kamala Harris, already wore it on Tuesday for an event with indigenous leaders.
The District of Columbia – where Washington and the White House are located – reached the “notable” rate of infections, with 52 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last week.
Biden also said Tuesday, in statements to the press, that he is “considering” the possibility of make vaccinations mandatory for the roughly 4 million of Americans working for the federal government, something he could order unilaterally.
“If you are not vaccinated, you are not even half as smart as I thought”, affirmed the president.
Despite the severity of the pandemic, which has left more than 610,000 deaths in the United States, many conservative states they resisted last year to order the mandatory use of masks.
However, some local authorities, such as those in Los Angeles (California), have begun in recent weeks to re-impose mandates for the mandatory use of masks indoors.
Recommendations for schools
With a boom in infections of almost 47% across the United States in the last week, the CDC also wanted to take action on Tuesday to enable schools across the country to reopen in autumn at full capacity.
To that end, the federal agency recommended the use of a mask for everyone who attends a school, from preschool to those teaching 18-year-olds, “including teachers, staff, students, and visitors, whatever their immunization status.”
That recommendation will fall on deaf ears in at least nine states that have passed laws to prohibit the use of masks in schools: Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Vermont.
“I know that putting masks on students is inappropriate, but that will help them learn and be with their classmates with the best protection available “, Biden said in his statement.