US asks vaccinated people in high COVID risk areas to wear masks again to curb spread of virus
In another setback, the White House on Tuesday also ordered all its staff to mask up again due to local transmission rates in Washington.
In a major development, the top health authority said that people vaccinated against COVID in high-risk parts of the country should resume wearing masks indoors, to suppress the Delta variant. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, cited new data that shows rare breakthrough cases involving Delta have an increased risk of onward transmission.
“To maximise protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission,” the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest guidance. To stem the spread of the Delta variant, the CDC will recommend schools adopt universal masking, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, when they reopen in the fall.
In another setback, the White House on Tuesday also ordered all its staff to mask up again due to local transmission rates in Washington. According to the latest CDC data, 63 per cent of the country’s more than 3,200 counties are experiencing substantial or high transmission.
President Joe Biden said the announcement showed that America needs to “do better" on vaccinations, adding that a vaccine mandate for the country’s more than two million federal workers was now “under consideration." He also said he would lay out new steps on Thursday to overcome the lag in vaccinations after the country’s strong start to its program.
More than two months ago, on May 13, the CDC had recommended that people who are fully vaccinated - those who received both shots of the two-dose Covid-19 vaccines such as Moderna and Pfizer - need not wear masks both indoors and outdoors. Infection numbers in the United States are now swelling, due to the Delta variant, which accounts for around 90 per cent of cases.