The CDC says they have new science to support new guidance.
Here are the key takeaways from the CDC's new masking recommendation and why it matters.
- On July 27, a little more than two months since announcing masks are optional for vaccinated people, the CDC changed its guidance.
- The CDC now recommends even vaccinated people should mask indoors in public settings during times/areas of high transmission (see map on source page for your state).
- CDC Dir. Walensky held a briefing on the updated guidance based on new science she says she recently reviewed.
"This new science is worrisome …"
Dir. Walensky says the delta variant “behaves uniquely differently” than other variants of the virus that causes COVID in its “willingness to outsmart and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it” (specifically in communities with high transmission and low vaccination rates). The CDC currently lists four “variants of concern.” The CDC says variants of concern are being closely monitored and are more infectious, causing “more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths) …”
"When we examine the rarer breakthrough infections, and we look at the amount of virus in those people, it is pretty similar to the amount of virus in unvaccinated people."
The CDC says “breakthrough cases” (when someone fully vaccinated becomes infected with the virus that causes COVID-19) continue to be rare but did not supply specific data points on how rare. The CDC promised more research to come on outbreak clusters they’ve been following.
"We continue to estimate the risk of a breakthrough infection with symptoms upon exposure to the delta variant is reduced by seven-fold. The reduction is 20-fold for hospitalizations and deaths."
The CDC provided this estimate on the efficacy of current vaccines, saying they still believe the vaccines protect individuals from mild/severe illness, hospitalization and death.
"… I think [what] we in public health and science are worried about is that virus and the potential mutations away we are from a very transmissible virus that has the potential to evade our vaccines in terms of how it protects us from severe disease and death."
Dir. Walensky emphasized this concern about the delta variant and potential new mutations of the virus as a core reason behind the new guidance intended to slow transmission and lower infection rates.
The CDC director says one of the reasons for this new guidance is to protect individuals who can’t get vaccinated – not only children but also immunocompromised people. That’s one of the reasons the current CDC guidance is that while in-person learning should take place this fall, those in K-12 schools ought to wear a mask.
You can listen to the CDC briefing HERE
Here’s the CDC map to show transmission: CLICK HERE
Here’s a list of variants from the CDC: CLICK HERE
by Jenna Lee,