The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday that vaccinated people living in “high”- or “substantial”-transmission areas of the country should resume wearing masks indoors due to the increased threat of the delta variant.

Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. counties fall into the category of either “high”- or “substantial”-transmission of COVID-19. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged residents of those counties to continue wearing masks indoors.

“In recent days I have seen new scientific data from recent outbreak investigations showing that that delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus that cause Covid-19,” she said. “This weighs heavily on me. I know that at 18 months through this pandemic, not only are people tired, they’re frustrated. We have mental health challenges in this country. We have a lot of continued sickness and death in this country. Our health systems are in some places being overrun for what is preventable and I know, in the context of all that, it is not a welcome piece of news that masking is going to be a part of people’s lives who have already been vaccinated.”

This news comes just two months after the CDC changed its mask guidelines, stating that fully vaccinated people could go mask-less outdoors.


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The CDC is now encouraging community leaders in high-transmission areas to push for vaccinations and mask-wearing. The agency is also recommending that students and teachers wear masks when they return to indoor learning.

President Joe Biden commented on the recent change, saying he hopes that “all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it. When I ran for President, I promised to be straight with you about COVID – good news or bad.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also commented on the new guidelines. “The reality is we are dealing with a much different strain of this virus than we were even earlier in the spring, back in May, when the masking guidance was provided by the CDC at that time,” Psaki said. “That is their job. Their job is to look at evolving information, evolving data, an evolving historic pandemic and provide guidance to the American public. That’s exactly what they will do and what they will provide specific details on later this afternoon.”

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