Friday, September 17, 2021

US tells people vaccinated in high-risk areas for Covid to re-mask

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WASHINGTON: People vaccinated against Covid-19 in high-risk parts of the United States should go back to wearing masks indoors, the top health authority said Tuesday, a major shift in guidance that underscored the country’s fight to suppress the variant. Delta.
President Joe Biden said the announcement showed that the United States needs to “do better” with vaccines, adding that a vaccination mandate is now “being considered” for the more than two million federal workers in the country.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, cited new data showing that rare cases involving Delta have an increased risk of progressive transmission.
“In areas with substantial and high transmission, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear masks in closed public settings,” he said.
As recently as last week, the CDC defended its surprise decision in May that vaccinated people did not have to wear masks indoors under most circumstances.
In another setback, the White House also ordered all of its staff to re-mask on Tuesday due to local broadcast rates in Washington.
According to the latest CDC data, 63 percent of the nation’s more than 3,200 counties are experiencing significant or high transmission.
Substantial is defined as between 50 and 100 daily cases per 100,000 people for seven days, while high is defined as more than 100 daily cases per 100,000 for seven days.
Biden said he would chart new steps Thursday to overcome the vaccine delay after the strong start of his program in the country.
In a separate address to the US intelligence community, when asked about a possible vaccine mandate for US federal workers, Biden responded, “That is under consideration at this time.”
On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it would require its front-line health workers, some 115,000 people, to be vaccinated, becoming the first federal agency to institute the requirement.
Walensky emphasized that so-called “advanced” cases among people who are vaccinated remain rare: vaccines reduce the risk of symptomatic disease sevenfold, and hospitalizations and deaths multiply twentyfold.
However, new research from the CDC showed that when a vaccinated person becomes infected, their viral load is similar to that of an unvaccinated person.
“That leads us to believe that breakthrough infections, however rare, have the potential to be transmitted to the same capacity as an unvaccinated person,” he said.
To stop the spread of the Delta variant, the CDC will recommend that schools adopt universal masking, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, when they reopen in the fall, he added.
Former President Donald Trump, widely accused of mishandling the virus while in office, criticized the latest recommendations.
“We will not return. We will not mask our children,” he said in a statement. “Brave Americans learned to live and fight safely and responsibly.”
The number of infections in the United States is now increasing, thanks to the Delta variant, which accounts for about 90 percent of cases.
The last seven-day average of daily cases is more than 56,000, similar to the levels last seen in April.
In total, more than 610,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States.
49% of the US population is fully vaccinated, but the vaccination rate is heavily skewed toward politically liberal areas of the country.
Walensky emphasized that he saw the masks as a “temporary” measure, adding: “What we really need to do to reduce these transmissions in high-transmission areas is vaccinate more and more people.”
According to a recent article in the journal Virological, the amount of virus found in the first tests of patients with the Delta variant was 1,000 times greater than that of the patients of the first wave of the virus in 2020, greatly increasing its contagion.
Last month, Israel reinstated the mask mandates, just 10 days after lifting them, due to the Delta variant, and local US jurisdictions, including Los Angeles County, have taken similar action.
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