STORY BY MELODY XU, GRAPHIC BY ALLISON HUANG
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday recommended that even fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
Over 63% of counties nationwide currently fall under this category, including Santa Clara County.
The California Department of Public Health issued a similar recommendation — not mandate — on Wednesday.
The recommendation is a direct response to the highly transmissible Delta variant, which has been in wide circulation and currently makes up around 83% of analyzed COVID-19 cases across the country; the state of California has seen a similar trend with the highly transmissible variant.
The CDC emphasized the recommendation to those at increased risk for COVID-19, those with household members with increased risk or those with unvaccinated household members.
Similarly, the CDC also reversed its previous stance on masks for schools; it now recommends indoor masking for all school staff and students regardless of vaccination status.
In practice, the CDC’s changing guidance won’t immediately mean anything for Santa Clara County; the California Department of Public Health has already mandated that students in California, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks until early November at the earliest.
And, Santa Clara County — along with seven other Bay Area counties — has already once again recommended that residents wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, and urged businesses to reinstate universal mask mandates.
The CDC’s guidance should, however, lend itself to bolstering the credibility of local orders, and possibly back county officials should they decide to reinstate a universal masking mandate, as opposed to the less strict recommendation that currently stands.