The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to revise its mask guidance Tuesday afternoon, saying fully vaccinated Americans should wear masks indoors in communities where there is substantial or high transmission, according to a federal official.
The announcement is expected to come at a 3 p.m. briefing. It isn’t yet clear how substantial or high transmission will be determined.
The new guidance comes as a growing number of local and state health officials have already returned to mandating masks indoors, with cases of the virus surging among unvaccinated Americans. Some 63% of U.S. counties currently have “high” or “substantial” spread of the virus, according to the CDC.
Federal health officials have insisted for months that their guidance allowed for local “flexibility” in deciding to require masks in parts of the country facing outbreaks of the virus. And masks were still required nationwide for fully vaccinated travelers indoors in buses, planes, and other forms of public transportation.
However, since celebrating “independence from the virus” on July 4 at the White House, the Biden administration has faced growing calls to step up measures to curb the Delta variant as it surged to virtually all cases of the virus in some regions of the country.
In the weeks since, a growing body of scientific research has pointed to the risk that the Delta variant could be leading to at least some more cases of so-called “breakthrough” infections among fully vaccinated people.
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first federal agency toemployees to be vaccinated, with the VA secretary announcing all medical personnel will be required to be fully vaccinated in the next eight weeks.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.