The Biden administration is considering urging vaccinated Americans to return to wearing face masks as the highly contagious Delta strain spreads across the US and vaccine rollouts in the country stall, a report said.
Multiple sources told the Washington Post that high-level discussions are underway between top White House officials and officials of the Biden administration over whether the nation’s mask guidelines should be updated after a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed mask guidelines in May, saying fully vaccinated Americans could go maskless in nearly all indoor and outdoor settings, except on public transportation.
But since then, the Delta variant has spread rapidly, now accounting for 83 percent of all new infections on U.S. soil and sending COVID-19 cases up 244 percent in the past three weeks.
Officials in several states, including California and Nevada, have already started asking residents — including vaccinated people — to return to wearing face coverings indoors, while Joe Biden said on Wednesday the CDC will soon issue guidelines for unvaccinated people. encourage children to wear masks in schools.
The Biden administration is considering urging vaccinated Americans to return to wearing face masks as the highly contagious Delta strain spreads across the US, a report said. Biden pictured Wednesday at the IBEW/NECA Electrical Training Center in Cincinnati
Talks are underway between top White House officials and officials of the Biden administration over whether the country’s mask guidelines should be updated
Sources told the Post that talks about revising mask recommendations for vaccinated Americans are still in the early stages.
Officials would consider the possibility of simply updating White House messages or changing official CDC guidelines.
Two sources said an idea on the table is to ask all Americans to wear masks in public places or indoor settings where vaccinated and unvaccinated people mix.
This includes shopping centers and movie theaters.
Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, who joined several calls to the CDC and state officials this week, told the Post that several options are being discussed as officials are desperate to get a head start on the Delta variant.
“It’s fair to say they’re rethinking everything,” he said.
“I think everything is on the table,” including rethinking recommendations on masks and social distancing.
Another source said officials approached the issue in terms of “what are the levers we can use to fight Delta.”
Officials would be hesitant to introduce any policies requiring people to show proof of their vaccination status, a source said.
This comes after several Republican governors signed laws banning vaccine passports in their states.
Any change in official mask-wearing guidelines would come from the CDC rather than the White House, and members of the National Health Service have joined some talks, sources said.
The Delta variant now accounts for 83% of all new infections and is sending cases massively across America
A source said the CDC has also had its own separate discussions about its mask policy.
The White House has repeatedly said it would not exceed the CDC when it comes to providing guidance and the science to follow.
Assistant White House Press Secretary Kevin Munoz told the Post that the White House is “following”[s] the guidance and advice of health and medical experts.
“Public health guidelines are made by the CDC and they continue to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals not wear a mask. If you are not vaccinated, you must wear a mask,” he said.
CDC spokesman Jason McDonald told the outlet “at this time we have no plans to change our masking guidelines.”
Biden, however, hinted at renewed push to wear masks Wednesday, when he said the CDC will issue guidelines requiring children under 12 and all unvaccinated students to wear masks at school.
Joe Biden said at an NN town hall on Wednesday (above) that the CDC will soon release guidelines to encourage unvaccinated children to wear masks in schools
“The CDC is going to say what we need to do is everyone under 12 should probably wear a mask in school, that’s probably what’s going to happen,” he said at a CNN town hall.
“Second, those over the age of 12 who can get vaccinated if you’re vaccinated shouldn’t wear a mask if you haven’t been vaccinated, you should wear a mask.”
His comments came after the American Association of Pediatrics recommended that everyone over the age of 2 wear masks when they return to school.
Local officials have already begun to kick back on mask guidance amid a renewed virus outbreak.
At least 17 counties in California — home to 56 percent of state residents — are now asking both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear face coverings in places like grocery stores and movie theaters, reports reported. The Los Angeles Times.
Only one of those counties, Los Angeles County, requires masks to be worn in these public institutions.
CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky has warned that the current outbreak is becoming “an unvaccinated pandemic” as most cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among people who have yet to take the shot
Vaccination rollout in the country has stalled with only 48.8 percent of Americans fully vaccinated
New Orleans officials issued an advisory that “strongly recommends” people wearing masks indoors again amid a rise in cases in the city.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Wednesday stopped mandating masks because the consultancy “puts the responsibility on individuals themselves.”
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned she could do the same as the number of infections in the city rises.
The kickback on mask guidance comes as officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of the Delta strain, which is more contagious than other variants.
The Delta variant is now responsible for about 83 percent of all new cases and is blamed for sending cases flying across the country.
The US registered 42,706 new cases Tuesday with a seven-day moving average of 37,056, a 244 percent increase from the 10,771 average recorded three weeks ago.
Every state except Iowa has seen infections rise or steady in the past week, according to an analysis of Johns Hopkins data from DailyMail.com.
In addition, 298 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday with a seven-day moving average of 274.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has warned that the current outbreak is becoming “an unvaccinated pandemic” as most cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among people who have yet to take the shot.
Vaccination rollouts in the country have stalled with only 48.8 percent of Americans fully vaccinated.
States that have less vaccine use — such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee — are seeing hospitals fill up.
Alabama has the lowest percentage of any state in America, with only 33.7 percent of Alabama residents fully vaccinated
The number of cases has skyrocketed in recent weeks and 96 percent of people who have died since April 1 had not been fully vaccinated.