The Delta variant is rapidly spreading throughout the United States. To help stop the spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that fully vaccinated people return to wearing face masks indoors when in high risk areas, reports CNN (opens in new tab).
The CDC says this is especially important in cities with high Covid-19 transmission. (The CDC has an online tracker (opens in new tab) where anyone can see the level of community transmission).
The Delta variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021. Since then, it's become the dominant strain in the U.S., representing 83% of cases. The strain seems to spread faster and is more contagious than the original Covid-19 strain.
Although studies suggest vaccines protect against the Delta variant, recent reports say that the Delta variant is capable of infecting fulling vaccinated people at a greater rate than previous versions. In addition, there are concerns that the vaccinated can also spread the Delta variant.
"To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission," suggests the CDC (opens in new tab). States such as Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama currently have high infection rates.
According to data from the CDC, currently 46% of US counties have "high transmission" and 17% have "substantial" transmission. In addition, the updated CDC guidance recommends everyone in schools wear masks.
If you have a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition, the CDC recommends that you wear a face mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area. Additionally, if someone is on medication that weakens their immune system, they may not be protected against the Delta variant, even if they're fully vaccinated.