‘Worrisome’ Delta variant causes CDC to reverse course on mask guidelines

Delta Variant

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It may be time to get out your masks again because on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control did an about-face on their mask recommendations, saying they should be worn indoors in high-transmission areas regardless of vaccination status.

Two months ago, the CDC said vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks indoors — but that was before the rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Now, they have reversed their course.

“The Delta variant is showing every day his willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a conference call Tuesday. “Some vaccinated people infected with a Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome, and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendation.”

A current map shows that seven of Utah’s 29 counties are in the High Transmission category, meaning more that 10% of tests came back positive over the past seven days. 18 counties, including Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, and Weber are currently in the High Rate of Incidence with more than 100 cases in two weeks. 

Only 46% of Utah’s 3.2 million residents are fully vaccinated against the virus. Today the CDC also recommended masks for all students, teachers, and staff in K-12 schools. The vaccine is not currently available for kids 11 and under.

“Once all school-age kids have access to the vaccine, we won’t need to recommend universal masking for unvaccinated individuals,” Dr. Angela Dunn, Executive Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department said. “But right now, it is our collective responsibility to protect those who don’t even have the option of getting vaccinated.”

Dr. Taki May of Intermountain Healthcare also expressed concern.

“I am worried about the kids going back to school with the vaccine not being available to them because they’re not great at hand hygiene, they like to share things including germs,” Dr. May said. “I think it’s a good idea to have kids masked.”

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