The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with high transmission as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and vaccination rates wane, according to media reports.
The guideline change comes a few days after Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief COVID-19 medical adviser, said the agency was reexamining mask recommendations for fully vaccinated Americans.
“We’re going in the wrong direction,” he told CNN’s anchor Jake Tapper on Sunday.
The CDC is expected to announce the details of the revised guidelines at a 3 p.m. ET news conference.
NBC News, citing unnamed officials aware of the decision, said it comes after new data suggests vaccinated individuals had higher levels of virus and could infect others as the delta variant continues to spread.
The delta variant of the coronavirus has ripped through unvaccinated communities in the U.S., which have accounted for almost all recent hospitalizations and deaths. Public health officials have said vaccines largely protect most vaccinated individuals from severe disease and death, but breakthrough cases are possible.
Meanwhile, New York City and the state of California announced plans this week to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for many of their employees or face weekly testing.
Also in the news:
►Tokyo on Tuesday reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases at 2,848, exceeding the earlier record of 2,520 cases on Jan. 7. Tokyo is under its fourth state of emergency, which is to continue through the Olympics until just before the Paralympics start in late August.
►At least 70% of adults in the European Union have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, keeping the 27-nation bloc on course to reach full vaccination in 70% of adults by the end of summer, the European Commission said Tuesday. Around 57% of adults in the EU are currently fully vaccinated.
►The Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic is requiring all of its employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Sept. 17, it announced Monday. The Department of Veterans Affairs also announced Monday that it will require its health care professionals to be vaccinated within the next two months as coronavirus infections have more than doubled in the past month at its medical facilities.
►Hawaii’s Department of Health is recommending that masks be used in all indoor settings at schools and that social distancing be observed in classrooms when possible. Masks are recommended outdoors when there is crowding or prolonged close contact.
►Australia’s second-most populous city is ending its fifth pandemic lockdown Tuesday as the Victoria state government declares it has beaten an outbreak of the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant for a second time.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 34.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 610,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 194.6 million cases and 4.16 million deaths. More than 163.7 million Americans — 49.1% of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: The CDC says masks for the vaccinated are optional. As COVID cases climb, some feel differently.
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The termination of eviction moratoriums in different states and municipalities likely led to hundreds of thousands of additional COVID cases and deaths, according to a study published Monday.
The study, published by UCLA researchers, compared COVID cases across 43 states — some of which kept eviction moratoriums and others who did away with them in spring or summer of 2020. States that did without saw an average of twice as many COVID cases and five times as many deaths, and ending eviction protections led to 433,000 COVID-19 cases and 10,000 additional deaths by September 2020, the study concluded.
The federal eviction moratorium, preventing tenants who are behind on rent from being removed from housing on public health grounds amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, will end this Saturday.
Pfizer and Moderna are expanding their vaccine trials for children ages 5 to 11, according to a new report.
The New York Times reported that the decision came from the Food and Drug Administration’s push to investigate rare side effects, including heart inflammation, that has come up in vaccinated people below the age of 30. The FDA asked the two companies to incorporate 3,000 additional children between the ages of 5 and 11 into the group, the Times reported.
Regulators will have to balance the potential side effects of the vaccines against the risk of COVID-19. Members of a CDC advisory committee believe that the protection the vaccine offers for people older than 12 outweighs the risks of side effects.
The United States has no plans to lift travel restrictions at this point given the rise of the delta variant, according to the White House.
The decision means the country’s current travel restrictions — which deny entry for people from the European Schengen area, United Kingdom and other countries — will remain in place.
“Given where we are today… with the delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing Monday. “The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world. Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.” Read more here.
– Bailey Schulz
Vanderbilt University Medical Center will require employees with leadership roles to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Employees were alerted to the mandate via an employee newsletter on July 15, VUMC spokesman John Howser confirmed in an email to The Tennessean.
All VUMC leaders are required to get the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or provide a medical or religious exemption by Aug. 15. They must be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption by Sept. 15.
“The deadline for requiring all VUMC employees to be vaccinated or have an approved exemption is under consideration and will be communicated at a later date,” Howser said.
The medical center is requiring VUMC leaders to be vaccinated to show an “overall commitment to promoting vaccination.”
In May, Vanderbilt University announced it would require students to receive the vaccine for the 2021-2022 school year. All faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows employed by the university are also required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 for the upcoming school year.
– Rachel Wegner, Nashville Tennessean
Contributing: The Associated Press.