On July 27, 2021, Dr. Rochelle Walenksy updated the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC”) recommendation regarding mask use for vaccinated individuals in a Media Telebriefing concerning COVID-19. At the time of this writing, the transcript is not yet available on the CDC’s media announcements.

During the update, Dr. Walensky explained the CDC reviewed new science related to the Delta variant that necessitated this update. The updated data indicates the Delta variant is the predominant variant circulating in the United States.

Likewise, the CDC indicated there have been breakthrough infection cases—albeit few—where vaccinated individuals not only contract the Delta variant of COVID-19 but also transmit it to others. Regardless of the small numbers in which this is occurring, the CDC made multiple recommendations in its telebriefing update:

  • The CDC continued to strongly urge everyone to get vaccinated when able.
  • The CDC now recommends all vaccinated individuals wear masks while indoors in public settings, including at schools.
  • The CDC recommends all individuals in K-12 schools to wear masks, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors. With proper prevention protocols, however, the CDC stated that schools can safely return to in-person learning this fall.
  • The CDC recommends community leaders in counties with high transmission rates to encourage universal masking and vaccination.

Dr. Walensky noted the CDC’s decision to provide updated guidelines was not made lightly. However, due to the universal response from medical professionals reviewing this data with the CDC, the organization found it necessary to provide such an update immediately and strongly encourage mask use for all people—regardless of vaccination status.

Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys will continue to provide relevant updates for healthcare providers on the Health Law Pulse during the COVID-19 public health crisis.