“That means it doesn’t take a long time of close contact (seconds versus minutes) for the virus to spread from one person to another,” he says. Ajay sethi, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies infectious diseases.
Who is protected by this new mask guide?
Walensky said the new mask policy tries to protect some of the most susceptible people in our society, such as those who live in high transmission areas or who have vulnerable family members such as children or people with pre-existing health problems.
He also said it was important for the United States to control the spread quickly because a future variant could evade the vaccine’s effectiveness in terms of preventing serious illness and death.
That doesn’t necessarily make the changes easier for the public to accept.
“Unfortunately, many people will see this as a sea change, particularly those who are already critical of the CDC,” says Sethi.
Sethi says that although the public desperately wants to believe that the pandemic is over, it will not be so as long as health policies are ignored.
Walensky emphasized that America’s vaccination rate must improve, and quickly. She said: “This moment, and most importantly, the associated illness, suffering and death, could have been prevented with increased vaccination coverage in this country.”
He also made no promise that the guide will not change once again: “We continue to closely follow the science and update the guide in case the science changes again.”
This story is part of the Pandemic Technology Project, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.