<< Back

CDC’s Reversal: Fully Vaccinated Should Wear Masks Again Indoors

July 27, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that fully vaccinated people again wear masks indoors in areas of the country with high COVID-19 infection rates, an abrupt reversal of its no-mask announcement two months ago.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, at an afternoon briefing, cited new evidence that fully vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant were found to have similar levels of virus detected in the nose and throat of infected unvaccinated people. Infections with previous COVID strains produced low levels of virus in the fully vaccinated, reducing the risk of spread.

“This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations,” said Dr. Walensky.

It’s uncertain if Connecticut, which has dropped to 20th among states with the lowest infection rate, will adopt the updated guidance. Only the state’s unvaccinated are now required to wear masks indoors. Masks are also required in all healthcare facilities, schools, childcare and other specified settings. The CDC mask recommendation includes areas of substantial or high transmission. The Northeast remains one of the least affected areas. (To see the CDC’s county-by-county view, click here.)

“If you are not vaccinated, please follow the state regulations and wear a mask when you’re indoors,” said Dr. Virginia Bieluch, Chief of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain. “If you are vaccinated, there is some risk that you will get a mild case of COVID-19. And if you’re at all concerned, I would encourage you to do what makes you comfortable and wear a mask inside.”

The CDC also recommends teachers, staff and K-12 students wear masks even if vaccinated. The mask update comes as health experts anticipate a spike in the highly contagious Delta variant entering the fall season and the new school year. The World Health Organization expects more than 200 million confirmed cases worldwide within weeks. In the United States, 43,700 new cases a day were reported last week, a 65 percent jump over the previous seven days and almost three times the levels two weeks ago.

Each person infected with the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, would likely infect 2.5 to three other people, according to research by the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. If you’re infected with Delta, you’re more likely to infect eight or nine others. Each of those other people can also infect eight or nine others. The spread grows exponentially.

Connecticut’s positivity rate, as low as 0.30 percent in June, reached 2.71 percent last week.

The CDC’s guidance still leaves it to state and local officials to determine whether to revive mask mandates.