The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that vaccinated people wear face masks when indoors in a public setting in portions of the nation that have substantial or high transmission.
"To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission," the agency's guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated states.
The CDC is also recommending indoor mask wearing for K-12 students, teachers, staff and visitors irrespective of whether those people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
President Biden said on Tuesday that a vaccine mandate for federal employees is being weighed. When asked whether he will require all federal employees get vaccinated, President Biden on Tuesday said that the matter is "under consideration right now."
CNN reported that according to a source, the president on Thursday will announce a requirement for federal employees and contractors to get vaccinated or else deal with regular testing and mitigation requirements. The outlet reported that the president will not levy such a mandate upon the nation's military for the time being. He is likely to outline how the Defense Department might aim to deal with the issue moving forward, the source noted, according to CNN.
The Washington Post, citing a White House official who wanted to remain anonymous, reported that the president on Thursday will announce that federal employees must get vaccinated or contend with repeated testing requirements. The White House is not planning to dismiss unvaccinated government workers but will levy restrictions as a method to encourage them to get vaccinated, the outlet reported.
Multiple Republican lawmakers have criticized the CDC's latest mask guidance:
- "The new CDC mask guidance is the final political nail into the credibility coffin of public health," Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas tweeted.
- "The @CDCgov has yet again reversed its mask guidelines after telling us for months that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask. When will this circus end?" Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee tweeted.
- "The CDC's mask mandate for k-12 schoolchildren isn't based in science or reality. Disappointed but not surprised by the "follow the science" crew that also thinks men can be pregnant," tweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
"Today's decision, sadly, was driven by politics, not science. Let me be clear: there should be no more COVID mandates, no mask mandates, no vaccine mandates, no vaccine passports, no lockdowns, and no school closures," Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said in a statement. "Enough is enough. The CDC has lost its credibility when it comes to what decisions Americans should make about COVID-19. It's long past time we got back to trusting the American people, not unelected federal bureaucrats."
So far there have been more than 34.5 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and more than 611,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
According to the CDC, 49.2 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated while 56.9 percent has received at least one dose.
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioN-Tech vaccines both involve taking two shots while Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine involves just one shot.