Utah reaction to new CDC mask recommendation

Jul 27, 2021, 7:40 PM
life expectancy decrease...
The CDC issued Thursday recommendations for use of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 bivalent vaccines to help protect Americans from COVID-19.Photo credit: Jessica McGowan/ Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials reacted today after an announcement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revising the agency’s mask recommendations.

Because of a surge in the delta variant of COVID-19, the CDC now advises even those who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask indoors in public settings. The new CDC guidelines only apply to those who live in or visit counties considered to have high or substantial amounts of new virus cases.

The CDC also recommends now that all students, teachers and staff at schools for kindergarten through 12th grade wear masks regardless of whether they were vaccinated.

For the Utah Department of Health, no change

The Utah Department of Health said the announcement on Tuesday by the CDC doesn’t change anything.

“No change from the Utah Department of Health,” agency spokeswoman Charla Haley told KSL Newsradio.

“We recommend unvaccinated people choose to wear masks in indoor settings. Of course, we’re always watching how the virus and the pandemic are evolving, but at this point have not changed our guidance regarding masks for these two populations (vaccinated and unvaccinated).”

Salt Lake County Health Department

Salt Lake County Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said in a statement that the announcement by the CDC echoed concerns she has already shared, particularly that this “is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and that widespread vaccination remains our most effective defense–including against the delta variant.”

She noted the importance of multiple layers of prevention especially in the wake of the delta variant, and that since she is a resident of Salt Lake County (which according to the CDC is currently experiencing substantial transmission) she will follow the CDC’s recommendation to mask when indoors in public settings.

The delta variant changed things

University of Utah Health infectious disease physician, Dr. Emily Spivak, said that Utah is in a different position now than we were in May when the CDC said it was okay for vaccinated people to take off the mask.

“We clearly didn’t have the delta variant, and there was pretty good evidence at that point that fully vaccinated people were really protected,” she told KSL Newsradio. But vaccination numbers have leveled off, she said. Today, just under 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

She reiterated that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective and have reduced serious illness and hospitalization.  Her concern is that spreading the disease is still possible, especially among children who don’t yet have access to a vaccine.

The Delta variant of COVID-19

According to the University of Utah School of Medicine, the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is more contagious and stronger than other strains of the virus. It is also easier to spread to other people.




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