Talk about mask whiplash.
Reversing a decision from two months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday said people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should once again wear face masks in indoor public settings if they live in an area where the virus is significantly spreading.
The updated guidelines cite the highly transmissible delta variant, which has become the dominant strain in the United States and has fueled a recent rise in cases, particularly among the unvaccinated. Since the CDC’s recommendation in May that fully vaccinated individuals could essentially resume normal activities, many municipalities and businesses made masks optional for indoor settings. However, those guidelines were criticized by many health experts as being confusing and premature.
With the reversal, the CDC now recommends fully vaccinated people mask up indoors if they live in an area where transmission of the virus is “high” or “substantial.” As it stands now, that includes much of the country, particularly in the South and on the West Coast.
If you want to check the current transmission levels in your area, the CDC offers a county-by-county tool. Just visit the agency’s COVID-19 Integrated County View page, select “levels of community transmission,” then select your state and county and the information will populate. (Note that the CDC recommends people follow all state and local guidelines in their area, which may differ from its recommendations.)