The spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the Chinese coronavirus is reportedly “forcing” Biden administration officials to “rethink Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] measures,” which could include re-instituting mask mandates — even among vaccinated people — according to reports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the Delta variant as one of “concern.” The variant comprises roughly 20 percent of infections in the United States and has prompted the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) to urge fully vaccinated individuals to, again, wear masks.
“People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses,” W.H.O. official Dr. Mariangela Simao said last week. “They still need to protect themselves.”
“Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” she continued. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding.”
“This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing,” Simao added.
While the CDC has not updated its mask guidance, which currently relieves vaccinated individuals from wearing face coverings, the Delta variant is now “forcing officials to rethink Covid-19 measures, even for the vaccinated,” according to CNN:
The Delta variant now accounts for about 1 in every 5 new coronavirus infections in the US, the CDC has said. And with more than half of the population still not fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, health experts and officials worry that regions with low amounts of virus protection could see surges in the fall and winter.
Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS that in terms of Delta spread, the US is about a month or two behind the UK — a country that has been dealing with high numbers of cases despite relatively high vaccination rates. For those such countries, the World Health Organization advised last week that even the fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks.
Experts have said that evidence points to vaccines like those from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech providing high amounts of protection against the variant, but LA Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said it is not clear what the future of the variant will be as it becomes more prevalent.
L.A. County is among localities that have already taken action, recommending everyone, even fully vaccinated individuals, to wear masks in indoor settings over fears of the variant’s spread.
The L.A. County Department of Public Health said in a Monday announcement:
With increase circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) strongly recommends everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places as a precautionary measure.
Public Health strongly recommends people wear masks indoors in settings such as grocery or retail stores; theaters and family entertainment centers, and workplaces when you don’t know everyone’s vaccination status. Until we better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading, everyone should focus on maximum protection with minimum interruption to routine as all businesses operate without other restrictions, like physical distancing and capacity limits.
Notably, the announcement came just two weeks after the state reopened, lifting most mask mandates.
Similarly, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is urging vaccinated individuals to wear masks as well, citing fears of the Delta variant.
“I think when we leave our home every day, I would encourage everybody — whether you’re vaccinated or not — to bring your mask with you,” the Democrat governor said. “You know what the guidelines are across the state of Illinois, and use your mask accordingly.”
The Delta variant has already triggered lockdowns across the globe:
Bangladesh announced that it would impose a new national lockdown from Monday over the variant, with offices shut for a week and only medical-related transport allowed.
Sydney’s normally bustling harbourside centre was nearly deserted after people were ordered to stay home except for essential trips to contain on outbreak of the variant.
And New Zealand, citing “multiple outbreaks” in Australia, announced a three-day suspension of its quarantine-free travel arrangement with its larger neighbour.
As a result of the rising concerns, CNN is now urging parents to get their children vaccinated “now,” well before the suspected surge in the fall.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said individuals participating in Fourth of July activities on the South Lawn on Sunday “should get tested one to three days in advance of coming to the event.”
“If they are vaccinated, of course, they can abide by the public health guidelines that does not require mask wearing. If they have not been vaccinated they should wear a mask,” she added.