The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today (7/27) changed course on the question of indoor masking for the fully vaccinated.
It now says all students, staff and teachers should wear masks in K-12 schools regardless of their vaccination status.
The new CDC guidance aligns with updated guidance issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on July 19.
That AAP guidance urges that all students older than 2 years and all school staff should wear face masks at school (unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use). Both the updated AAP guidance and the updated CDC guidance apply regardless of vaccination status.
In explaining its decision, the CDC cited new information about the Delta variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people, who are more protected against serious illness or hospitalization than the unvaccinated, as a reason to update its masking recommendations. While COVID vaccines are considered highly effective, so-called “breakthrough cases” among fully vaccinated persons are still possible and new data indicate persons with “breakthrough cases” can still transmit the virus.
Facing a surge in COVID cases driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant–particularly in unvaccinated pockets of the country–the CDC now says fully vaccinated people should now wear masks in “public, indoor settings” in areas of the country with “substantial” or “high” levels of transmission. As defined by the CDC, those are areas with 50 or more new cases per 100,000 people in the last week.
- Currently, most Southern and Western states are experiencing substantial or high levels of COVID transmission. (See CDC national map.)
- Wisconsin’s level of transmission, although still moderate, has been steadily increasing in recent weeks. (See Wisconsin DHS state map)
The CDC is still urging unvaccinated people to get vaccinated if they are eligible, saying the shots continue to provide overwhelming protection against severe outcomes of the disease, even with the Delta variant spreading.
UPDATE (7/28): View Wisconsin DHS press release relating to the updated CDC and DHS guidance in response to growing case activity and circulation of the Delta variant here.