USA TODAY International Edition
Masks, no masks, now masks again
Frustration grows for those fully vaccinated
The mask guidance announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday provoked frustration among fully vaccinated Americans.
But not directed at the agency. Vaccinated people told USA TODAY they’re relieved the CDC is recommending masks in indoor settings again where COVID- 19 transmission is high. They’re more frustrated the mask guidance was lifted two months ago.
“I didn’t really agree with taking the masks off in the first place,” said Candace Howze, 28. “We all know America at this point, and everyone was going to stop wearing them.”
Howze lives in Wake County, North Carolina, where the CDC said transmission is substantial. She hopes to
“I didn’t feel like the mask mandate should have been rolled back in the first place.”
Chelsea Merta, 33
see more people wearing masks, as she has been, especially as health officials see a rise in breakthrough infections.
In a briefing Tuesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency’s guidance was triggered by science that showed some people infected with the delta variant after vaccination can spread the virus to others.
She said fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infections from the delta variant have a similar viral load to infections in unvaccinated people, which means fully vaccinated Americans can spread the virus more easily than previously thought.
Health experts said there’s hardly any transmission among fully vaccinated people, so they doubt the CDC guidance will affect community spread. “It makes sense why they did it, but I don’t think it’s going to make a major difference in the large surge that we’re having,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, Rhode Island. “The real issue still is unvaccinated people who are not going around masked up. I have no reason to think that this guidance will get unvaccinated, unmasked people putting on masks. And that’s what we really need.”
For the first time in more than three months, U. S. cases average more than 60,000 per day, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. There are more than 2,000 deaths per week, and health officials said unvaccinated people make up more than 90% of those deaths.
“I live in the epicenter of the delta variant, and I didn’t feel like the mask mandate should have been rolled back in the first place,” said Chelsea Merta, 33, in St. Louis. She’s relieved the indoor masking recommendations are back, but she’s not confident officials will follow through, even though a map by the CDC shows high COVID- 19 transmission in nearly every county.
Health officials continue to reiterate the majority of COVID- 19 transmission occurs among the unvaccinated.
Contributing: Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.