CDC Now Recommends Masks For Fully Vaccinated People – Will Utah Follow Up?

Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, along with everyone at K-12 schools, should wear masks again in public indoor spaces to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in virus hotspots, according to the centers’ new recommendations for Disease Control and Prevention released Tuesday.

The change comes due to new scientific evidence showing that the delta variant – which is now responsible for 80% of coronavirus cases in the United States – not only causes breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated people, it causes them also enables the deadly disease to spread, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director.

Hailing from India, the Delta variant is blamed for an alarming spike in Utah’s COVID-19 cases filling hospital beds. On Tuesday, the Utah Department of Health reported 613 new cases and seven more deaths from the coronavirus.

“This new science is worrying and unfortunately warrants an update of our recommendation,” Walensky told reporters on a conference call. The CDC announced in May that only those who are not vaccinated are required to wear masks.

This earlier decision was welcomed by Governor Spencer Cox as “healthy for our souls and healthy for our country.” Governor’s spokeswoman Jennifer Napier-Pearce did not specifically address the CDC’s U-turn in a statement.

“Reg. Cox continues to urge all eligible Utahners to get vaccinated. It’s the most effective way to protect yourself from hospitalizations and deaths due to COVDI-19. He also urges those who cannot or do not want to be vaccinated to wear masks to protect themselves and others, ”she said.

Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said in a statement: “We function better as a government agency when we educate the public about the facts. It is the government’s job to collect data and then inform and educate the public. After that, it depends on the individual choice. “

Adams, who encouraged legitimate Utahners to get vaccinated in the face of rising case numbers in the state, said, “K-12 students must be able to return to full-time classes this school year.”

A spokeswoman for the Utah House of Representatives spokeswoman Brad Willson, R-Kaysville said he was unavailable Tuesday.

The Utah statewide mask mandate was lifted by Utah legislature in April. State lawmakers also ended all virus-related restrictions, including masking requirements in schools, and restricted the powers of other entities to reimpose mandates.

Last week. Dr. Angela Dunn, who now heads Salt Lake County’s Health Department after retiring as an epidemiologist, has urged the county’s residents to send their children under 12 back to school wearing masks, but said any attempt to make face coverings mandatory is because of the Resistance is “senseless” by legislative leaders.

Dunn said Tuesday that as the Delta variant spreads across the state, it is “important to implement multiple layers of prevention” and that it will follow the CDCs’ new recommendations because Salt Lake County is experiencing significant transmission and it does not “know who is around “. I am not vaccinated. “

She said her “focus is on providing and promoting vaccination and protecting the children in our community who are too young to be vaccinated” and that “not all of our populations have reached high enough vaccination levels to have herd immunity.” and to ensure vaccination ”. Protection throughout the community. “

Currently, less than 46% of all Utahns are fully vaccinated against the virus, which means it has been two weeks or more since their last dose.

The CDC’s recommendations go beyond Dunn’s, which only applied to school children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for COVID-19. Vaccine federal agency demands that everyone at all K-12 schools be masked, even if they are already vaccinated.

The new recommendations do not change the state health department’s advice on masks, said spokesman Tom Hudachko.

“Our guidance remains that unvaccinated people should choose to wear masks indoors, including schools,” he said. “So no change based on the CDC announcement.”

And Mark Peterson, spokesman for the Utah Board of Education, said the board was taking advice from state and local health officials in Utah.

“We cannot issue public health orders. That is beyond our scope. That is entirely up to state and local health authorities, ”said Peterson.

Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews said she was “pleased with consistent guidance on a very controversial subject. We need to look after the health and safety and wellbeing of all of our children in schools, especially those who have no choice but to get vaccinated, our boys. “

Matthews said she hoped “these guidelines provide health professionals with an opportunity to pause and revise any mandates that would not allow the recommendations to be implemented”.

Concern about breakthrough cases of the virus in Utah has increased, although they are still rare.

Walensky said that for someone fully vaccinated against the virus, the risk of contracting COVID-19 after exposure to the Delta variant was seven times greater and the risk of hospitalization or death by around age 20 -fold is reduced.

The CDC recommendations apply to people living in areas of significant and high transmission. According to the state health department, all but nine of Utah’s 29 counties are considered high or moderate transmission rates.

Han Kim, professor of public health at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, said lawmakers now overseeing the state’s response to COVID-19 are likely to be “stripping” federal masking recommendations, even though the state now has the eleventh highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the country.

“You could actually double,” Kim said, adding that Utah’s mask mandates are no longer applicable, “what does that really matter? People who listen, who will wear a mask, will. People who don’t will not. It’s really not going to change things. “

The CDC’s U-turn is undoubtedly frustrating for many, he said, despite federal agency responding to new outbreaks. The original decision to tell Americans no longer need to mask themselves after vaccination was intended as a reward, Kim said, and now the nation’s vaccinated may feel punished.

“We need to be able to change our policies depending on the situation, and the situation in the US is not that great right now,” he said, especially as vaccinations have stalled. “If we could get 80% of the people vaccinated, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.”

The number of cases in Utah continues to rise

The 613 new cases reported Tuesday bring the total number of COVID-19 in Utah since the pandemic started in March 2020 to 429,300. Vaccinations, now in the state at just under 3 million doses, have slowed, with a daily increase of 5,204.

Utah’s 7-day moving average for positive tests is 653 per day, with 4,333 people tested and 7,444 tests performed in the state the previous day. The 7-day rolling average for percent positivity of the tests is 10.2% when all results are included and 14.7% when multiple tests by the same person are excluded.

There are a total of 338 people with the virus in Utah hospitals, and the state’s death toll reached 2,441, with the seven additional deaths reported Tuesday. You are:

  • A Davis County man aged 45 to 64 who was hospitalized at the time of death
  • Two Salt Lake County men, both between 65 and 84 years old, both hospitalized at the time of death
  • A Millard County woman, aged 45 to 64, was hospitalized at the time of death
  • A Uintah County woman, between 45 and 64, was hospitalized at the time of death
  • A Salt Lake County woman aged 25 to 44 who was hospitalized at the time of death
  • A Washington County man, aged between 25 and 44, was hospitalized at the time of death

Contribute: Marjorie Cortez

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