CDC Live Updates: CDC to Issue New Guidelines on Masks for COVID Vaccinated, Students in Schools

Live Updates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new guidance Tuesday afternoon that recommends vaccinated people begin wearing face masks when indoors in certain parts of the U.S.

The recommendation revised a May guidance from the CDC that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks indoors.

Rochelle P. Walensky, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed during a news conference Tuesday that the organization had updated its guidelines for the fully vaccinated. The recommendation applies to areas of the U.S. with high transmission rates.

Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alaska, South Carolina and Florida may be some of the areas referenced by the CDC in the recommendation, as they have seen a severe uptick in cases in the past week.

Walensky also said that all people in K-12 schools are now recommended to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

The decision to change the guidelines came after the CDC became aware of some rare cases in which people infected with the delta variant after vaccination could be contagious and pass it to others. However, the "vast majority of transmission" is occurring through unvaccinated people, Walensky said.

President Joe Biden issued a statement following the announcement encouraging Americans to heed to recommendations.

"Today's announcement by the CDC—that new research and concerns about the Delta variant leads CDC to recommend a return to masking in parts of the country—is another step on our journey to defeating this virus. I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas," Biden wrote.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief COVID-19 medical adviser for President Joe Biden, said on Sunday that the CDC had been reconsidering mask guidances for vaccinated citizens after a recent and severe uptick in infections in the U.S

"We're going in the wrong direction," he told CNN on Sunday.

The live updates for this event have ended.

Mask Requirements in LA
The CDC issued a new guidance Tuesday afternoon for vaccinated people to begin wearing face masks when indoors in certain parts of the U.S. People shop at a grocery store enforcing the wearing of masks in Los Angeles on July 23, 2021. Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Florida, Louisiana Among States Seeing Recent COVID Surges

Data released by Johns Hopkins University shows that six U.S. states have seen a severe surge in coronavirus infections in the past week as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread.

These states may be some of the areas referenced by the CDC in newly-updated guidelines that recommend places with high transmission rates require masks in public, indoor settings.

The six states are Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alaska, South Carolina and Florida, which also have some of the lower vaccination rates in the country.

In a statement released after the announcement of the new CDC recommendations, President Joe Biden said he hopes "all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it."

"I certainly will when I travel to these areas," he added.

#DeltaVariant surging in U.S. New data show Delta much more contagious than previous versions of #COVID19. Unvaccinated people: get vaccinated & mask until you do. Everyone in areas of substantial/high transmission should wear a mask, even if vaccinated. https://t.co/tt49zOEC8N

— CDC (@CDCgov) July 27, 2021

CDC Has Been Collecting Information on Breakthrough Infections

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky announced during a news conference Tuesday that the organization is working to gather new data on breakthrough infections, or infections by people who are fully vaccinated.

Walensky said that the CDC has been collecting data on the infections through "more than 20 cohorts of people."

"These include tens of thousands of people who we are following nationwide, and they include healthcare workers, essential workers, long-term care facilities, and in some of these cohorts we're collecting PCR (test) data from every person in them weekly," Walensky added.

The push for breakthrough infection data coincides with a CDC announcement that it had observed some rare cases in which vaccinated people infected with the delta variant could be contagious and pass the virus to others. Walensky promised that the organization will report on its findings from the breakthrough infection data "soon."

President Joe Biden Encourages America To Follow New CDC Guidelines

Following the CDC's announcement of revised mask guidelines, President Joe Biden issued a statement encouraging Americans to heed to recommendations.

"Today's announcement by the CDC—that new research and concerns about the Delta variant leads CDC to recommend a return to masking in parts of the country—is another step on our journey to defeating this virus. I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas," Biden wrote.

Like CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, Biden encouraged people to continue getting vaccinated, an area where "we still need to do better." He pledged to begin planning the next steps in America's vaccination campaign on Thursday.

"Vaccinations are free, safe, and effective to every American. They've been available to every adult in this country for more than three months—at locations within 5 miles of 90% of the US population," Biden wrote in the statement.

States, Officials Must Decide Whether They'll Heed CDC Guidance

While the new CDC recommendation that vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with high transmission rates can't force people to wear masks, some parts of the country have already begun reinstating mask mandates.

Los Angeles County in California is one of these areas, which reinstated a mask requirement after it saw a sevenfold increase in new cases since reopening on June 15.

"We expect to keep masking requirements in place until we begin to see improvements in our community transmission of COVID-19. But waiting for us to be at high community transmission level before making a change would be too late," Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis said in a statement.

States like Alabama, Alaska, Florida and Mississippi have some of the highest infection rates coupled with the lowest vaccination rates. Only the states themselves and local officials can decide whether to heed the CDC's guidance.

California Mask Mandate
A storefront sign reminds people to wear a face mask on July 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Vaccinating More Americans 'More Urgent Than Ever': CDC Director

As the delta variant of COVID-19 remains the "predominant variant circling in the United States," CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said getting more Americans vaccinated is "more important than ever."

On behalf of the CDC, she recommended community leaders "encourage vaccination and universal masking" to "prevent further outbreaks in areas with substantial transmission."

"The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates and among unvaccinated people," Walensky said.

"This moment, and most importantly, the associated illness, suffering and death, could have been avoided with higher vaccination coverage in the country," she added.

Some Vaccinated People Infected with Delta Could Be Contagious: CDC Director

While announcing updated guidelines for masks in indoor areas and K-12 schools, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky cited some rare cases in which people infected with the delta variant after vaccination could be contagious.

While the "vast majority of transmission" is occurring through unvaccinated people, the rare instances of contagious vaccinated people spurred the CDC's decision to change the guidance, Walensky said.

CDC Officially Recommends Vaccinated People Wear Masks Indoors in Certain U.S. Areas

Rochelle P. Walensky, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed during a news conference Tuesday that the organization has updated its guidelines and now recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor areas. The recommendation applies to areas of the U.S. with high transmission rates.

Walensky also said that all people in K-12 schools are now recommended to wear masks, even when fully vaccinated.

CDC Also Expected to Recommend Everyone in K-12 Schools Wear Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend that everyone in a K-12 school dons a mask even if they're vaccinated, CNN reported, citing an unnamed administration health official.

The announcement is anticipated to come during the CDC's 3 p.m. (EDT) news conference, when it is also expected to recommend vaccinated people begin wearing face masks when indoors in certain parts of the U.S.