The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend Tuesday that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid-19 transmission rates, according to people familiar with the matter.
Federal health officials still believe fully vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission, according to the sources. Still, some vaccinated people could be carrying higher levels of the virus than previously understood and potentially transmit the virus to others, they said.
The updated guidance comes ahead of the fall season, when the highly contagious delta variant is expected to cause another surge in new coronavirus cases and many large employers plan to bring workers back to the office.
Health experts fear delta, already the dominant form of the disease in the U.S., is hitting states with low vaccination rates and high prevalence of the virus. Those states are now being forced to reintroduce mask rules, capacity limits and other public health measures that they’ve largely rolled back in recent months.
White chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the CDC was considering whether to revise mask guidance for vaccinated Americans, saying it was “under active consideration.”
“It’s a dynamic situation. It’s a work in progress, it evolves like in so many other areas of the pandemic,” Fauci, also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. “You’ve got to look at the data.”
The CDC’s guidance is only a recommendation, leaving it up to states and local officials on whether to reintroduce their mask rules for certain people. But even before the CDC’s anticipated guidance Tuesday, some regions were reintroducing mask mandates and advisories.
Several counties across California and Nevada are now advising all residents to wear masks in public indoor settings — whether they are vaccinated or not. In Massachusetts, officials in Provincetown advised all individuals to resume wearing masks indoors after Fourth of July celebrations led to an outbreak of new cases.
–CNBC’s Meg Tirrell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.