The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on wearing masks as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to soar across the country. The new guidelines recommend that everybody in K-12 schools wear masks, including those who have been fully vaccinated.
The agency also recommends that everybody in areas with a high or substantial transmission rate of COVID-19 should wear masks while indoors. According to the CDC, 46% of counties in the U.S. have a high transmission rate, and 17% have a substantial transmission rate.
The decision to update the guidance was made as the highly transmissible Delta variant has become the dominant strain in the United States.
"It's based on the fact that the Delta variant is clearly more transmissible than the prior ones," a White House official told CNN. "When you get information about risks and how to mitigate risks, there's a public health obligation to let people know about it."
The CDC's guidance is only a recommendation, and it is up to states and counties to enact any mandates that require people to wear masks. Several localities, including Los Angeles County, have already put mask mandates back in place. Meanwhile, other areas, including Florida and Texas, have refused to reinstate coronavirus restrictions and mask mandates, even as the number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths approach numbers not seen since last winter.