WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden and White House officials will resume wearing masks indoors when traveling to parts of the nation with high rates of covid transmission, according to updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include full Vaccinated individuals are encouraged to put face covers on in vulnerable areas.
“I hope all Americans living in the areas covered by the CDC guidelines will follow them; I will definitely do it when I travel to these areas, ”Biden said in a statement after the CDC issued its guidelines.
The CDC on Tuesday recommended that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in public places as new data shows that vaccinated people – although well protected from serious illness – can still transmit the virus to people who are sometimes not vaccinated.
“In areas of significant and high transmission, CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks in public, indoors, to prevent the spread of the Delta variant and to protect others. This includes schools, ”said CDC director Rochelle Walensky.
The CDC also recommended that everyone in elementary schools wear masks indoors “including teachers, staff, students and visitors regardless of vaccination status.”
Two months ago, the CDC announced to fully vaccinated people that they would no longer need to wear masks in most environments, and the White House had dubbed July 4 a “Summer of Freedom” to see progress in the fight against the Celebrating Virus.
However, the highly transmissible Delta variant has since developed into the dominant strain, which has led to a nationwide increase in infections, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. After great strides in its vaccination campaign in winter and spring, the Biden government struggled to increase vaccination rates in summer.
According to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, the weekly average of daily new Covid infections in the US is more than 57,000, a 65% increase from the previous week. On July 5, the seven-day average of the country’s daily new infections was just below 12,000.
In his statement on Tuesday, Biden encouraged Americans to get vaccinated.
“Today’s announcement also makes it clear that the most important protection we have against the Delta variant is vaccination. While most US adults are vaccinated, too many aren’t. Although we have seen an increase in vaccinations over the past few days, we still have to do better, ”said the President.
Biden told reporters that his government is also considering whether to give federal employees the Covid-19 vaccine, a move that comes a day after the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented such a mandate.
“That is being considered right now,” Biden said, adding that unvaccinated people are contributing to the ongoing pandemic.
“If those other 100 million people were vaccinated, we would be in a completely different world. So get vaccinated, ”said the President.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that on Tuesday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s medical advisor for the coronavirus, has been briefed on the CDC’s updated guidance.
“We will of course adhere to every aspect of the CDC guidelines on masking that they are providing this afternoon,” Psaki said during a press conference.
“That means we will be ready to wear masks again if necessary,” she said.
When asked if the White House was disappointed with CDC guidelines, Psaki noted the severity of the nascent Delta variant.
“We are all dealing with an evolving virus for which there is no playbook or historical precedent,” said Psaki. “The American people should feel confident that we will continue to be guided by science and look at public health data to provide new guidance.”