These 2 Cities Are Telling Vaccinated People to Wear Masks Indoors Again
The spread of the Delta variant have local health officials concerned.
The pandemic isn't fully over yet, but arguably the biggest step back towards normalcy came in May when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that fully vaccinated people were no longer recommended to wear face masks indoors in most cases. Within weeks, many cities and states removed the mandates that had been in place, allowing those who had received their doses to return to public life without PPE. But even as cases plateau on a national level, some health officials are becoming worried as the highly contagious Delta variant is beginning to spread. As a result, two major cities are now telling citizens that even fully vaccinated people should be wearing masks indoors again.
In recent moves by their respective municipal health departments, officials in both Los Angeles and St. Louis are telling their citizens to resume wearing face coverings in any indoor public spaces regardless of whether or not they've gotten all of their required shots. Both health departments recommend using PPE in any space where you can't be sure of the vaccination status of those around you, including grocery stores, retail shops, theaters, and offices.
"While COVID-19 vaccine provides very effective protection preventing hospitalizations and deaths against the Delta variant, the strain is proving to be more transmissible and is expected to become more prevalent," Barbara Ferrer, PhD, Director of Public Health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement on June 28. "Mask wearing remains an effective tool for reducing transmission, especially indoors where the virus may be easily spread through inhalation of aerosols emitted by an infected person."
On July 1, the health departments of St. Louis City and County issued a joint statement reversing the previous recommendation that had dropped the use of face masks for fully vaccinated individuals while indoors. The move came the same day that nearby Jefferson County issued a similar recommendation after a 42 percent surge in COVID-19 cases was recently reported.
"This pandemic is not over," Faisal Khan, MD, acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, said in a statement. "The virus and its variants present a real and imminent danger to the health of people in the St. Louis region. We must encourage vaccination and continued precautions."
The announcements reflect a growing consensus among health experts and officials that certain parts of the U.S. may need to do more to stop a surge of cases from the Delta variant. During an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press on July 4, Anthony Fauci, MD, echoed the opinion that even fully vaccinated people in states or cities may want to take it upon themselves to redon their face masks while indoors.
"If you put yourself in an environment in which you have a high level of viral dynamics and a very low level of vaccine, you might want to go the extra step and say, 'When I'm in that area where there's a considerable degree of viral circulation, I might want to go the extra mile to be cautious enough to make sure that I get the extra added level of protection. Even though the vaccines themselves are highly effective,'" he said.