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New CDC guidelines call for masks in schools K-12

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 12:40 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2021 at 3:28 PM CDT
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(Gray News) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended people wear masks in kindergarten through 12th-grade schools.

“The CDC recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in a briefing. “Children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place.”

The updated CDC guidelines also called for masks for other indoor areas in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

This change comes around two months after officials had said masks were no longer needed inside for the vaccinated. That was before the highly contagious delta variant became the dominant strain across the country.

Walensky said one of the factors in the updated guidance was, in some cases, the level of the delta strain of the virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people. For previous strains, infected vaccinated people showed low levels of the virus and were deemed unlikely to spread it.

With the more transmissible delta variant, “it is concerning enough that we feel like we have to act,” Walensky said.

Most new infections continue to be among unvaccinated people, but “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in those who are vaccinated. The U.S. is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 hospitalizations.

Copyright 2021 Gray Media Group, Inc. Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.