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New CDC Mask Guidance: 7 Things You Need to Know

Everything you need to know about the updated mask guidance.

After over a year of mask-wearing guidance, in May 2021 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally reversed their recommendation, giving fully vaccinated people the okay to go mask free. Today, two months later, they are reversing that decision. The CDC is expected to release new mask guidance. Read on for 7 things you need to know about the new guidance—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Everyone—Regardless of Vaccination Status—Should Wear Masks Indoors in Certain Places

Cashier working at the supermarket wearing a facemask while scanning products

The CDC is recommending that even those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks while indoors, in certain parts of the country. Those parts will most likely be areas where vaccination rates are low, and will be announced this afternoon. They are also going to advise that children in grades K to 12 continue wearing masks at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, regardless of vaccination status.


There Has Been A Surge of COVID-19 Infections

Patient in ambulance with paramedics, wearing face masks

Darren P. Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College – Thomas Jefferson University explains that the change in recommendation is due to the recent spike of infections. "There has been a significant increase in Covid cases in the last few weeks," he explains. 


The Delta Variant Is Partially to Blame

Biotechnology scientist in ppe suit researching DNA in laboratory using microscope. team examining virus evolution using high tech for scientific research of vaccine development against covid19

One of the reasons infections are on the rise is the prevalence of the Delta variant. While those who aren't vaccinated are suffering more serious versions of the virus when infected with Delta, those who are fully vaccinated against the virus are still getting infected. 


Vaccination Can Help Prevent Serious Infection, But Not Spread


While vaccination is "very effective to prevent hospitalization and death," Dr. Mareiniss explains that there are still breakthrough infections. And, while those who are vaccinated might not get extremely sick, they can still infect others. 


Some Parts of the Country Have Been Hit Harder Than Others

Man is lying on bed amidst essential workers.

The surge of COVID-19 cases isn't a universal trend across the country, per Dr. Mareiniss. "States and jurisdictions with low vaccination rates have been particularly hard hit," he explains. According to the latest CDC data; 46% of counties have high transmission and 17% have substantial transmission, amounting to about two-thirds of US counties having high or substantial transmission of the virus.

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Also, We Don't Know Who Is Vaccinated

Man gesturing stop to nurse offering syringe with vaccine.

Dr. Mareiniss also points out that it is particularly important that we have no way to verify who is vaccinated. Therefore, people who aren't vaccinated, and much more prone to infection, might be walking around an indoor space mask-free. 

RELATED: 5 Ways to Prevent Dementia, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta


Wearing Masks Indoors Will Limit Virus Spread

Waitress in medical mask inviting customer

The virus is primarily spread indoors by circulating viral aerosols. Therefore, he notes that masking indoors is an important mitigation measure." "In light of the resurgent virus cases, it's reasonable for the CDC to recommend masks in indoor public spaces in order to limit the further spread of the virus," he says. So follow the new advice, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah