The Centers for Disease Control Tuesday recommended that vaccinated people in areas with “substantial or high” COVID-19 transmission wear masks in public indoor settings, and that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks when classes return this fall. As of Thursday morning, the CDC says nearly two-thirds of all U.S. counties were experiencing either a substantial or high level of transmission. The current 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is roughly 67,000, up from roughly 42,000 a week ago but still well below the pandemic high of 255,000.
The recommendations revived the stark partisan divide over facemasks. Right-rated voices often accused the CDC of lacking data to back up its guidance; some also pointed to studies that suggest vaccinated people don't need to wear masks. Left-rated voices often agreed with the guidance, and highlighted studies that say vaccinated people may still be spreading the virus. Some on the right have erroneously described the new recommendations as mandates, and have subsequently criticized purported government overreach and overbearing public health measures.
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Snippets from the Center
"Multiple GOP governors and lawmakers are characterizing the latest health guidance as a step backward amid a flailing drive to vaccinate Americans. Some have said their states would not return to the mask orders."
"The mixed reaction to each announcement by the CDC illustrates the tension, fear and frustration Americans feel, not only with state laws and changing guidance, but with each other. Stock markets don’t like uncertainty, and neither do human beings."
Snippets from the Right
"The lack of clarity on what exactly the agency is basing its decision on comes as states and cities across the country are working to vaccinate more of their citizens. And it's making some local officials reluctant to follow the CDC's advice on nearly universal masking."
"Doocy asked why, after weeks of being told that the coronavirus vaccines were safe and effective, officials were reversing course and telling vaccinated people to go back to wearing face masks. Psaki responded by saying that the coronavirus vaccines were saving lives, referencing a chart behind her and adding that most of those who were being hospitalized were not vaccinated."
Snippets from the Left
"The CDC recommendation for the vaccinated to resume indoor mask-wearing in areas of “high” or “substantial” coronavirus transmission is catalyzing executives’ worries that additional steps — including mandatory vaccinations — may be needed to ensure a safe return to normal operations."
NBC News (analysis)
"[Conservative] rebukes are no surprise; masks have been deeply politicized, and mandates have drawn strong opposition from Republicans since they were first imposed in spring 2020. This time, however, they aren't alone in their resentment."