The CDC’s new mask guidelines could actually increase the risk of Covid-19 spreading in public spaces and workplaces, scientists from a leading group of infectious diseases said Thursday.
The CDC abruptly reversed its mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans last week to say that vaccinated people will no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors in most settings. Officials said they changed their guidelines in part because research shows the vaccines offer very high levels of protection against the disease of Covid-19 and spread it to others.
“There is no debate about this fact,” said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, who sits on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a news conference hosted Thursday by the Infectious Disease Society of America. However, the agency’s announcement created widespread confusion and frustration because “it was unexpected and lacked the necessary context for implementation by the state and local health community,” he said.
Duchin is the society’s liaison with the CDC’s Vaccination Committee. The company represents leading specialists in infectious diseases in the USA
“There was no information on how the guidelines could be used in practice, particularly in relation to the inability to check vaccination status,” said Duchin. The CDC also did not provide guidance on whether people should continue to wear masks in areas with high transmission rates or low vaccination rates, he said. “What the CDC did, however, was not optimal and gave the wrong impression that the mask mandates were being lifted.”
Doctors across the country and federal health officials continue to stress that only vaccinated people are safe to remove their masks. The new mask management was misinterpreted as the end of the pandemic and mask mandates, which puts the local health authorities in a very difficult position. States in the United States took the news as a cue to facilitate mask mandates. Texas Governor Greg Abbott used the new guidance to justify signing an executive order that threatens the fine for local officials and communities for not dropping mask requirements.
Duchin said that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are likely safe outdoors without masks, but they are not indoors.
“Now the risk of Covid-19 spreading in crowded indoor spaces with unvaccinated people and especially with poor ventilation is increased,” said Duchin. While the CDC’s scientific basis for the change is “solid,” Duchin said ending the mandate for inner masks “could lead to increased risk in public spaces and workplaces with avoidable spread of Covid-19, mostly among the unvaccinated spreads. “
Vaccination rates vary across the country, and the majority of those vaccinated are older adults. Large subgroups such as younger adults remain unvaccinated.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, who also spoke at the briefing, said research has shown that up to 3% of Americans have been told by their doctors that they have some level of immunodeficiency, which puts them at an increased risk of being exposed to Covid be.
“Millions of people fit that bill, and we literally have very little data on whether the vaccine works in them,” Marrazzo said. “There is a real reason to be careful and interpret the guidelines carefully.”
The scientists also said people need to acknowledge that there is uncertainty about the future course of the pandemic, the effects of emerging variants, the duration of immunity, and the potential for a Covid-19 resurgence.
“The Covid-19 outbreak is by no means over, there is still significant uncertainty and there is still significant disease activity,” said Duchin.
If someone is fully vaccinated and has no other conditions that threaten their community, and the Covid rates where they live are relatively low and the vaccination rate is high, Marrazzo said it would be “100% okay if.” you go somewhere without illness. ” Mask.”
Marrazzo added that despite being fully vaccinated, she will continue to wear a mask around the house as vaccination rates in her community are not even 50%.
“If I knew we were seeing really notable declines in hospital admissions for symptomatic illnesses possibly related to Covid that have a very high vaccination rate, it would probably be okay to go without a mask, but I’m not seeing that anytime soon “, she said.
While nearly half of all people in the United States, 160.2 million, received at least one shot, Marrazzo said only 4.6% of the world’s population did the same.
“People need to be aware of what’s going on, watch vaccination rates, watch out for the involvement of these new varieties and think about being ready to get things going again,” warned Marrazzo.