Nearly half — 46% — of US counties currently have high transmission and 17% have “substantial” transmission, according to data from the CDC, as of Tuesday morning.
To prevent further spread of the Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Tuesday to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission of COVID-19.
Am I at risk? Should I wear a mask?
While the CDC has given a clear recommendation on when to wear masks, should you still do so even if you are not in higher risk counties?
The short answer to this question is “yes”, especially if you are around people that are unvaccinated, indoors, or around large crowds.
Why are we being asked to wear masks again?
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves into new variants, like the highly transmissible Delta variant, these viruses are evolving inside of us.
It turns out that COVID-19 has a very low mutation rate, which is good. The problem is that there are millions of people on the entire planet getting infected with this single disease, increasing the chances of a deadlier or more contagious variant to be mutated and spread.
According to CNN, there are new published data showing that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant can have as much virus as those who are unvaccinated.
This is the primary driver for the CDC’s latest mask guidance change.
What does CDC recommend for masks in school?
The CDC recommends that all teachers, staff, students, and visitors in schools wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
With many schools starting classes around the country, and only 30% of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 fully vaccinated, we need to make sure that our kids can safely get back to full in person learning.
As many school districts look to CDC for guidance, these new clear recommendations will make it easier for them to set masking policies.
The delta variant spreads very easily, and classrooms are high risk environments without protective measures. Children are at much lower risk of severe illness than adults, but they can and do get infected and transmit the virus to others.
The President on Thursday also called on school districts nationwide to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks in an effort to get more kids 12 and older vaccinated.
Biden announced vaccination requirement across federal government
On Thursday, July 29, 2021, President Biden announced that all federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be submitted to regular testing and mitigation requirements.
Employees who have not been vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.
The announcement included new steps and incentives to encourage new vaccinations including expanding paid leave for employees who take time off to get themselves and family vaccinates, employers to be reimbursed, and offering $100 to Americans who get vaccinated with the money coming from the American Rescue Plan.
The plan also follows the decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to require its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated over the course of the next two months.
At this time, the president will not impose the requirement on the US military, but he is ordering the Department of Defense “to look into how and when they will add Covid-19 to the list of vaccinations our Armed Forces must get.”
If you lost your vaccination card, you can fill out the AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE OF IMMUNIZATION RECORDS form on the PA Dept of Health website and provide a copy of a photo I.D. to have your vaccination records emailed or mailed to you. You can also email the staff at: DHPASIIS@PA.GOV.
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