SAN ANGELO, TX – As coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket all across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas that have high transmission rates.
"Today we have new science related to the delta variant that requires us to update the guidance" for vaccinated people, said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. "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."
According to Dr. Walensky, new data shows that in some cases vaccinated individuals could be infected with the Delta variant and be as contagious as those who are not vaccinated.
While vaccinated individuals may be contagious with the new variant, they are unlikely to become severely ill. According to medical experts, people who become infected with the Delta variant are carrying a viral load that is 1,000x higher than previous strains.
But even as data shows that vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus, in recent weeks the vast majority of new infections, hospitalization, severe cases, and deaths have been among unvaccinated patients.
The CDC stated the new recommendations indicate even fully vaccinated individuals should wear masks in indoor settings in high and substantial transmission areas.
"This was not a decision that was taken lightly," said Walensky. "The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us."
According to the CDC, more than 46 percent of counties in the United States are reporting a "High" level of community transmission in the last seven days.
By comparison, approximately 17 percent are reporting a "Substantial" level, 27 percent have a "Moderate" level, and 9 percent have a "Low" level of community transmission.
"The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates and among unvaccinated people," said Walensky. "The associated illness, suffering, and death could have been avoided."
The updated guidelines also state schools should re-open but with precautions, including that everyone in K-12 schools should wear a mask indoors.