CDC issues new mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans

The agency is now advising Americans to mask up in high-transmission communities indoors and outdoors even if they’ve been vaccinated.

As COVID-19 continues to increase in states across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is revising it’s mask requirements that most states have ditched as they emerged from their emergency orders earlier this month.

Although fully vaccinated people represent a very small amount of transmission, Federal health officials believe some vaccinated people could be carrying higher levels of the virus than previously understood, and potentially transmit the virus to others.

The CDC made a decision late Tuesday and recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid-19 transmission rates.

The agency is now advising Americans to mask up in high-transmission communities indoors and outdoors even if they’ve been vaccinated. They are also advising vaccinated Americans to mask up if they have household members who are vulnerable, including young children and those who are immunocompromised.

Photo Courtesy of DHSS

The CDC website has already been updated and now recommends to wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

To maximize 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.

Wearing a mask is most important if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area.

You should continue to wear a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance.

Also on Tuesday, the CDC recommended that students return to in-person learning in the fall and called for universal masking for teachers, staff members and students in schools, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Photo Courtesy | Astra Zeneca

At the White House, The Biden Administration has taken a hands-off approach with the agency to ensure they are not interfering with the work of scientists. Speaking Tuesday after delivering remarks at the office of the Director of National Intelligence, President Joe Biden says that requiring all federal workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus is “under consideration,” as the more infectious Delta variant surges across the United States and a significant amount of Americans still refuse the shot.

The comment comes after the Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines.

At the VA, vaccines will be now mandatory for specified health care personnel – including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants and others who work in departmental facilities or provide direct care to veterans, said VA Secretary Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough.

“It’s the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said in a statement. “Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19.

The director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to President Biden told members of the media Sunday that the United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant.”

“It’s a dynamic situation. It’s a work in progress, it evolves like in so many other areas of the pandemic,” Fauci said in an interview with CNN. “You’ve got to look at the data.”

In an interview with the Washington Post, Fauci told reporters, “The situation has clearly changed” since May 13.”

“Vaccinated people are transmitting it, and the extent is unclear, but there’s no doubt they’re transmitting it,” Fauci said. “People who are vaccinated, even when they’re asymptomatic, can transmit the virus, which is the scientific foundation of why this recommendation is being made.”

In our region, some local health networks are also taking precautions and requiring employees to be fully vaccinated. In Philadelphia, some hospitals and health networks have announced a mandate for employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as cases once again begin to rise across the country.

Employees and clinical staff at the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 1, 2021.

UPHS CEO Kevin B. Mahoney in a statement said, “As an institution grounded in the science and art of healthcare, we believe it is imperative for Penn Medicine to take the lead in requiring employee vaccinations to protect our patients and staff and to set an example to the broader community as we work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Also the 14,000-plus members of Virtua Health are requiring employees and clinical staff to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“As care providers, we have an obligation to ‘do no harm,'” said Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE, president and CEO of Virtua Health, South Jersey’s largest health system. “Having our colleagues protected against this terrible virus helps ensure we keep that promise.”

As of Wednesday, the state of Maryland has not updated their mask policy. In the past 24 hours the state of Maryland has recorded 416 new coronavirus cases. The testing positivity rate increased 0.14% to 2.45%. 19 more people were hospitalize and 3 people died from COVID-19 during the same period.

Officials in New Jersey are taking action and are strongly recommending everyone wear a mask indoors where there is an increased risk of COVID-19. Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Wednesday this includes both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents.

In Delaware, Governor John Carney and his health officials are reviewing the CDC Guidance before issuing any announcements or thoughts on the recent CDC recommendation.  

“We’re reviewing updates to the CDC guidance, and will provide any updates as necessary. The Governor and his public health team will continue to encourage all eligible Delawareans to get the vaccine.,” Said Emily David, a spokesperson for Governor John Carney. “That’s the best way to reduce spread of COVID-19, and to protect yourself and those around you from infection and serious illness. That’s especially true with the more contagious Delta variant circulating in Delaware.”

Delaware Newsline reached out to ChristinaCare but have not heard back from them as of the time of publishing this story.

Nearly 163 million people, or 49% of the eligible U.S. population, are vaccinated, according to CDC data.

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