SAN ANTONIO — The Centers for Disease Control revised its guidance on masks Tuesday, saying even fully vaccinated Americans should wear masks indoors in places where there is high transmission.
The announcement comes as coronavirus cases across the country are surging once again, thanks to a Delta variant accounting for 83% of new cases.
The CDC is suggesting folks put their mask back on if they’re heading to an indoor public space… even if they’ve been vaccinated.
"I'm not surprised at all by the mask mandate," said Dr. Fred Campbell, an associate professor of medicine for UT Health San Antonio."
The CDC suggests people put their face coverings back on in areas with high rates of infection or low vaccination rates. Bexar County falls in the high transmission category, according to a map from the CDC.
"Even those that potentially have been vaccinated would be likely to be more susceptible to this particular variant," Campbell said.
The main driver for this change comes from unpublished data from Houston Methodist Hospital. The study found the Delta variant is causing a higher rate of breakthrough infections (though breakthrough cases are still rare).
Additionally, the level of virus found in vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated is “indistinguishable.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said vaccinated people still have the potential to spread COVID-19 to others.
Still, severe infection for vaccinated people is rare.
"Thus far, we've had relatively few life-threatening infections in individuals who have been vaccinated because the degree of antibody protection has remained high," Campbell said.
The CDC is also suggesting masks for teachers, staff and students at school, regardless of vaccination rate
"There's no reason to take any chances," Campbell said.
This comes as San Antonio’s weekly positivity rate is up to 17%, according to San Antonio Metro Health.