The CDC’s decision Tuesday to reverse course and urge even fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas of high COVID-19 transmission isn’t likely to crush community spread, experts say – but it might ratchet up pressure on the unvaccinated and encourage businesses and schools to implement mask mandates.
The CDC is also now recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors inside schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, regardless of vaccination status, aligning closely with the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommended this month that anyone over the age of 2 be required to wear a mask in school.
“The delta variant is showing everyday its willingness to outsmart us and be an opportunist,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a Tuesday briefing. “In rare occasions some vaccinated people infected with the 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 recommendations.”
Both the CDC and the AAP are still urging children to return to full-time in-person learning in the fall.