Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reiterated on Wednesday that persons vaccinated against COVID-19 are not required to wear masks in most situations.
Walensky relayed to the American public during a Wednesday interview on NBC’s “Today” that the health agency is effectively leaving it up to local officials to establish set guidelines for masking practices.
“Local policymakers need to make policies for their local environment,” the director said, emphasizing that such steps need to be especially taken in places where low vaccinations have prompted a surge in new infections. “Those masking policies are not to protect the vaccinated, they’re to protect the unvaccinated.”
“If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States,” she later underscored.
Speaking to the WHO’s recent call for those vaccinated to mask up, Walensky conceded that the recommendation was issued with a global aspect in mind, a consideration that mostly touches on the rising delta cases abroad.
“The WHO really does have to make recommendations for an entire world,” the official acknowledged. “Here in the United States we’re fortunate… and really quite protected from the variants that we have circulating here.”
To date, at least 66.5% of US adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with another 57.4% of adults having been fully vaccinated. Mask mandates were widely lifted in late April for vaccinated individuals, although some restrictions have remained when indoors.
However, data from California-based genomics company Helix has indicated that delta cases make up about 40% of new COVID-19 cases, as the strain has emerged in hundreds of communities across the US. Health officials have warned that the delta strain is more than likely to become the dominant variant nationwide, as well as globally.
Aside from the WHO, calls for Americans to prolong masking practices have also come from officials in Illinois and California’s Los Angeles County after suffering devastating waves of the delta variant.