CDC Reverses Policy, Recommends Wearing Masks Indoors Even For Vaccinated in COVID Hotspots

The Delta variant is causing renewed concern about “breakthrough infections” even for some who are fully vaccinated.

Getty Images

COVID-19 isn’t done with us yet. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released new mask recommendations requiring even those who have been vaccinated against the virus to wear face coverings indoors in areas where there is “substantial” COVID transmission.

In a press briefing, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations. This is not a decision that we or CDC has made lightly.”

Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM /

Here’s more from the New York Times:

The change follows reports of rising breakthrough infections with the Delta variant of the virus in people who were fully immunized, and case surges in regions with low vaccination rates. The vaccines remain effective against the worst outcomes of infection with the virus, including those involving the Delta variant.

But the new guidance, the details of which are expected later Tuesday, would mark a sharp turnabout from the agency’s position since May that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most indoor spaces.

In the Tuesday briefing, Dr. Walensky also said, “In recent days I have seen new scientific data from recent outbreak investigations showing that the Delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus that cause Covid-19.”

Updated guidance for schools, according to Walensky, states that the “CDC recommends that everyone in K through 12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.”

That said, the director also stated students “should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place.”

Back in May, Walensky indicated that the agency could relax indoor mask recommendations because, as the Times writes, few “vaccinated people become infected with the virus, and transmission seems rarer still.” 

That was before the Delta variant of the virus became more widespread. Since then, this much more easily transmitted version of the bug has been found in “clusters” that included fully vaccinated people, indicating it may be able to break through vaccine protection easier than other coronavirus variations. 

This comes on the heels of a USA Today report that California and New York City plan to require vaccinations or testing and the Department of Veteran Affairs “has made shots mandatory for medical workers.”

Multiple reports, as well as statements by Dr. Anthony Fauci, indicate we’re seeing renewed concerns about infections from variants at least in part because, according to the Times (citing federal data), “[slightly] less than half of the population had been fully vaccinated, as of Monday.”

Vaxxed and masks thrown out or stored away? Go here to stock up again. Just in case.