CDC issues new mask-wearing guidance as Delta variant cases spike

The Center for Disease Control has changed its mask guidelines for vaccinated people. Officials now saying vaccinated people in high transmission areas should wear masks indoors. 

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The new recommendations come as cities and counties all over the country are seeing a spike in COVID cases due to the Delta variant. 

DC Health says it’s currently reviewing the new CDC guidelines as well as state and local health departments in our area, but cases here have been climbing since earlier this month.

 It’s the same in surrounding counties–according to the CDC’s community transmission map, all counties and cities in our area fall in the moderate transmission category, but you can see cases are up. 

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The DC case count from July 24 was more than 60 percent higher than the week before. In Arlington County, it was 152 percent higher and in Fairfax County, the case count increased 122 percent. Over in Montgomery County, cases are up more than 71 percent between that time period, and in Prince George’s County, they’re doing slightly better with a 23 percent increase.

 FOX 5 spoke to Dr. Amesh Adalja who said the CDC’s new guidelines won’t make much of a difference in reducing cases and that instead, the focus should be on getting people vaccinated.

 "The way to do this is to not use masks as substitutes for vaccines," Adalja said. "It’s vaccines that need to be put into people’s arms and I think this is going to be confusing to people. It’s going to be something that’s not complied with very much, there’s going to be a lot of variabilities and it somewhat de-incentivizes the vaccine-hesitant." 

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As far as vaccination rates go here in the DMV, 53 percent of DC residents are fully vaccinated. In Fairfax County, the vaccination rate is almost 58 percent. In Montgomery County, 63 percent of people are fully vaccinated and in Prince George’s County close to 58 percent are fully vaccinated.

 "You can’t really underscore how important the vaccines are and how they’ve changed this disease," Adalja said. "We’re always going to have covid 19 cases but what we want to do is make COVID like other respiratory viruses year in and year out where we don’t have these types of worries and we’re getting there." 

 All health departments in our area say they are reviewing the updated guidelines and have not yet changed any policies requiring vaccinated people to wear masks indoors.