WALENSKY: "Today, we have new science related to the Delta variant that requires us to update the guidance regarding what you can do when you are fully vaccinated."
In a major reversal on Tuesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a telephone news briefing, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that she leads now recommends that Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should go back to wearing masks in indoor public places in regions where the virus and especially the Delta variant are spreading rapidly.
WALENSKY: "In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant and protect others."
Behind the course correction: new, troubling data showing that vaccinated people who contract the Delta variant in so-called breakthrough cases can spread the virus.
WALENSKY: "Information on the Delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that, in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others."
The revised guidance is a setback for the Biden administration, after Walensky happily announced in May that vaccinated Americans could shed their masks in most places to allow life to begin to return to normal.
WALENSKY ON MAY 13, 2021: "Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing."
But with the seven-day average for new cases in the U.S. now rising sharply and tens of millions of Americans still not vaccinated, the CDC is pumping the brakes, noting that 63% of counties across the country had high transmission rates that warranted mask wearing.
The CDC also recommended that all students and teachers at kindergarten through 12th grade schools wear masks regardless of vaccination status. The CDC added that children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies.