CDC reportedly 'staying the course' on its mask guidance

Subway station
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Amid the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly "staying the course" on its mask guidance — for now, at least.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that officials in the Biden administration are "debating whether they should urge vaccinated Americans to wear masks in more settings" due to a spike in cases caused by the Delta variant of COVID-19. But CBS News reported Thursday that, according to a source close to the discussions, there are "currently no plans to change the CDC guidance on masks ... We're staying the course." A federal health official also told CBS that the CDC isn't currently planning to update its mask guidance, saying, "unless there's some really compelling science that we don't know about yet that emerges, there's just simply no plan to change the guidance."

The CDC announced in May that vaccinated Americans mostly wouldn't be advised to wear masks anymore. Amid a spike in cases due to the Delta variant, though, there have been some calls for the guidance to be revised. Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams, for example, said this week that "instead of vax it OR mask it, the emerging data suggests CDC should be advising to vax it AND mask it in areas" where cases are high. And the Post reported that there have been discussions about asking "all Americans to wear masks when vaccinated and unvaccinated people mix at public places or indoors."

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On Thursday, though, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that for vaccinated people, continuing to wear a mask to receive an "extra layer of protection" is an "individual choice." Walensky also noted, though, that "we are always looking at the data as the data come in."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.