White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday insisted there was no decision to change the administration’s face mask policy.
She was countering a report the administration was considering urging vaccinated Americans to start wearing masks again given the rising number of COVID cases due to the Delta variant.
‘There has been no decision to change our mask guidelines,’ Psaki said at her press briefing.
‘Any decision would come from the CDC,’ she noted.
‘No one who has been vaccinated is being advised to wear a mask,’ she said for added emphasis.
Psaki acknowledged there are ongoing conversations about the COVID pandemic and how to handle the rising case numbers that consider multiple factors.
‘We never said that battle was over,’ she noted. ‘It should be more concerning to you, the American people, if we were not having those conversations.’
The White House has used the argument that vaccinated people don’t need to wear a face mask as a way to encourage people to get their shot.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted there was no decision to change in the administration’s face mask policy
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky also said no change in face mask policy but she noted people can make the ‘personal choice’ to wear one for more protection
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday that the agency’s recommendations on face mask have not changed.
But, she noted, people can ‘make the personal choice’ to wear a mask as additional protection.
‘As we’ve said consistently, the greatest risk right now is to those who are unvaccinated,’ she said.
She also said local communities should make their own decisions.
‘We have always said that communities – local communities have to look at what is going on locally,’ she noted.
Multiple sources told the Washington Post that high-level discussions are underway between top White House aides and Biden administration officials over whether the nation’s mask guidance should be updated following a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The CDC relaxed its mask guidance back in May, saying fully vaccinated Americans could go without masks in almost all indoor and outdoor settings, with the exception of public transport.
But since then, the Delta variant has spread rapidly, now accounting for 83 percent of all new infections on US soil and sending COVID-19 cases soaring 244 percent in the last three weeks.
On Thursday, Philadelphia health officials recommended that everyone should be wearing a mask in public places that are indoors, including those who are fully vaccinated.
Officials in several states including California and Nevada have already started asking residents – including vaccinated people – to return to wearing face coverings indoors while Joe Biden on Wednesday said the CDC will soon issue guidance encouraging unvaccinated children to wear masks in schools.
The Biden administration is considering urging vaccinated Americans to start wearing face masks again as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads across the US, according to a report. Biden pictured Wednesday at the IBEW / NECA Electrical Training Center in Cincinnati
Discussions are underway between top White House aides and Biden administration officials over whether the nation’s mask guidance should be updated
Sources told the Post that talks weighing whether to revise mask recommendations for vaccinated Americans are still in the early stages.
Officials are said to be mulling the possibility of simply updating the messaging coming from the White House or changing the official guidance from the CDC.
Two sources said one idea on the table is to ask all Americans to wear masks in public places or indoor settings where vaccinated and unvaccinated people are mixing.
This would include the likes of malls and movie theaters.
Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, who joined the CDC and state officials on several calls this week, told the Post several options are being discussed as officials are desperate to get ahead of the Delta variant.
‘It’s fair to say they are reconsidering everything,’ he said.
‘I think everything’s on the table’ including revisiting recommendations on masks and social distancing.
Another source said officials were approaching the issue in terms of ‘what are the levers we can pull to fight Delta.’
Officials are said to be hesitant to introduce any policy that will require people to show proof of their vaccination status, a source said.
This comes after several Republican governors signed laws banning vaccine passports in their states.
Any change in official guidance for wearing masks would come from the CDC rather than the White House and members of the nation’s health agency have joined in some of the talks, sources said.
The Delta variant now makes up 83% of all new infections and is sending cases soaring across America
One source said the CDC has also been holding its own separate discussions on its mask policies.
The White House has repeatedly said it would not overstep the CDC when it comes to issuing guidance and will follow the science.
White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz told the Post the White House ‘follow[s] the guidance and advice of health and medical experts.
‘Public health guidance is made by the CDC, and they continue to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals do not wear a mask. If you are not vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask,’ he said.
CDC spokesman Jason McDonald told the outlet ‘at this time, we have no intention of changing our masking guidance.’
However, Biden hinted at a renewed push to wear masks Wednesday when he said the CDC will issue guidance requiring children under 12 and all unvaccinated students to wear masks in school.
Joe Biden on Wednesday said in a NN town hall (above) the CDC will soon issue guidance encouraging unvaccinated children to wear masks in schools
The nation’s vaccination rollout has stalled with just 48.8 percent of Americans fully vaccinated
‘The CDC is going to say that what we should do is, everyone under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school, that’s probably what’s going to happen,’ he said during a CNN town hall.
‘Secondly, those over the age of 12, who are able to get vaccinated if you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t wear a mask if you aren’t vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask.’
His comments came after the American Association of Pediatrics recommended everyone over the age of 2 wear masks when they return to school.
Local officials have already started backpedaling on mask guidance amid a renewed virus outbreak.
At least 17 counties in California – home to 56 percent of the state’s residents – are now asking both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear face coverings in places such as grocery stores and movie theaters, reported The Los Angeles Times.
Just one of those counties, Los Angeles County, is requiring masks to be worn in these public settings.
CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky has warned that the current outbreak is becoming ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as most cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among people yet to take the shot
New Orleans officials issued an advisory ‘strongly recommending’ that people resume wearing masks indoors amid a rise in cases in the city.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell stopped short Wednesday of making masks a requirement saying the advisory ‘puts the responsibility on individuals themselves.’
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned she might do the same as infections rise in the city.
The backpedaling on mask guidance comes as officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of the Delta strain which is more highly contagious than other variants.
The Delta variant is now responsible for about 83 percent of all new cases and has been blamed for sending cases soaring across the country.
The US recorded 42,706 new cases on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 37,056, which is a 244 percent increase from the 10,771 average recorded three weeks ago.
Every state aside from Iowa has seen infections rise or hold steady in the last week, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
Additionally, 298 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 274.
CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky has warned that the current outbreak is becoming ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as most cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among people yet to take the shot.
The nation’s vaccination rollout has stalled with just 48.8 percent of Americans fully vaccinated.
States that have less vaccine uptake – such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee – are seeing hospitals starting to fill up.
Alabama has the lowest percentage of any state in America with just 33.7 percent of Alabama residents fully vaccinated
Cases have surged in recent weeks and 96 percent of people who have died since April 1 were not fully vaccinated.
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