Washington will update mask guidance ‘if needed’ after new CDC recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course Tuesday on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.
Meanwhile, state health officials are currently working to determine whether Washington will need to update its own mask guidance to match.
The CDC’s Tuesday update advises that “everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission wear a mask, even if vaccinated,” as well as indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors at schools nationwide.
The CDC also now has a county-by-county analysis of case rates in each state, broken down into four categories: high, substantial, moderate, and low. Masks are recommended for all counties where transmission levels are either high or substantial. In Washington, that would constitute 25 of the state’s 39 counties.
Across the country, health officials have pointed to the growing prevalence of the Delta variant as a driving factor behind these recent trends, as well as pockets of populations where vaccinations have been lagging.
Similar data have been tracked in Washington as well, with the state Department of Health’s latest modeling indicating that the Delta variant “is now the dominant strain in circulation,” alongside increased case rates for those between the ages of 20 and 39.
Given that, the DOH says it will be “reviewing” the CDC’s new guidance, and will update its own “if needed” in the coming days.
Eight Western Washington counties got a head start earlier this week, issuing a joint recommendation urging residents to wear masks in all indoor public settings. That included Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and Grays Harbor counties.
King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin also offered praise for the CDC’s new guidance on Tuesday.
“CDC has done the right thing in revising their guidance to recommend masking for both unvaccinated & vaccinated people in indoor public spaces where CoV-19 transmission is rising with the rapid spread of the Delta variant,” Dr. Duchin said on Twitter. “… Masking in indoor public spaces where everyone is not known to be vaccinated will provide additional protection that reduces the risk for acquiring & spreading COVID-19 by both unvaccinated & vaccinated persons, helping all of us stay healthy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.