After an uptick in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in late July 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reversed its mask policy, recommending that fully vaccinated people should resume wearing their masks indoors in places with high transmission rates.
The announcement was made during a press meeting held over the phone on July 27. Additionally, the health agency said that children should also wear masks when going back to school in the fall, reported The Associated Press.
“The Delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 is surging in the United States. New data show Delta is different than past versions of the virus; it is much more contagious. While rare, some vaccinated people can get Delta in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious,” wrote the CDC in an Instagram post.
“Unvaccinated people: get vaccinated and wear a mask until you do. Everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission should wear a mask, even if they are vaccinated.”
In mid-May, the CDC said fully vaccinated people didn’t need to wear masks inside or outside. But the decision to revise that recommendation came after COVID cases, deaths, and hospitalization trends continued to increase during the summer as the delta variant, a mutated and more transmissible coronavirus strain, began to spread quickly.
According to the CDC, the delta variant has caused an estimated 75% of recent COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and will likely cause more. Experts still say that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against the delta variant, but breakthrough cases have been reported in vaccinated individuals.
The CDC noted that their guidance is not enforceable at the federal level, and it is up to local officials to decide whether to reintroduce masks mandates.
Snopes contacted the CDC, and will update this article when a transcript of the briefing has been made available.