By Carl O’Donnell and Jeff Mason
(Reuters) – The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not revised its masking guidelines even as the Delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the United States, increasing infections, the CDC director said on Thursday , Rochelle Walensky.
Walensky declined to say if the CDC is considering changing the guidance. In May, the CDC relaxed its guidelines so that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most public spaces.
His comments coincided with reports that administration officials were discussing whether to change masking guidelines in response to outbreaks caused by the Delta variant.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said such a decision would be made by the CDC, and President Joe Biden said experts were studying any necessary changes.
“What they’re doing is they’re … investigating every aspect of any change that might or might take place,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “We follow the science.”
The president said on Wednesday that the CDC would likely advise unvaccinated children to wear masks to school as districts across the country prepare to reopen for the next school year.
The seven-day average of new cases in the United States is up 53% from the previous week, Walensky said. The Delta variant, which was first found in India, now accounts for over 80% of new cases nationwide and has been detected in more than 90 countries.
Some hospitals in the United States are reaching their capacity limits as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Walensky said.
The increase in cases is concentrated in areas with lower vaccination rates. Florida, Texas and Missouri account for 40% of all new cases nationwide, with about 1 in 5 of all new U.S. cases occurring in Florida, the White House’s COVID-19 task said for Director Jeffrey Zients.
Zients said the United States will continue to distribute tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
The White House announced in June its intention to distribute around 80 million COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
Leading US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said there was no reason for people who received the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE 🙂 to assume they should be given a dose. extra of Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 or Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc’s vaccines to protect against newer variants of the virus.
The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are reviewing the data to see if immunity wanes in those vaccinated to determine if additional booster shots are needed.
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