July 27, 2021 coronavirus news

By Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:02 PM ET, Tue July 27, 2021
26 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:32 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

White House reimposes mask requirements indoors

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jason Hoffman and Maegan Vazquez

White House staff and reporters covering the White House must now wear masks inside the complex at all times regardless of vaccination status after the newest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the District of Columbia in an area of “substantial” spread.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported a note went out to White House staff informing them of the change Tuesday afternoon. 

The White House Correspondents Association president Steven Portnoy sent an email to WHCA members informing them of the change. 

“With a 7-day moving average of 52 cases per 100,000 as of this afternoon, the CDC website now indicates that the District of Columbia is an area of 'substantial' spread. As a result, and in keeping with guidance being issued today to White House staff, the WHCA is reimposing its mask requirement for all indoor spaces at the White House,” Portnoy’s email read.

Earlier on Tuesday, the CDC updated its guidance to indicate that fully-vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in areas of “substantial” and “high” spread of Covid-19.

Asked during Tuesday’s briefing if the White House plans to reimpose a mask requirement for staff, press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration would follow the CDC’s guidance.

“First we will of course be abiding by every aspect of the CDC guidelines on masking that they will provide this afternoon. And that does mean, as you conveyed, that we will be looking at the rates in different areas where the President may visit, and also the rates as they, if they move in Washington, DC, and we will apply guidance accordingly,” Psaki said.

5:04 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Biden will announce vaccination requirement across federal government on Thursday

From CNN's Kyle Blaine

President Biden will announce on Thursday a requirement that all federal employees and contractors be vaccinated against the coronavirus, or be required to submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. 

The announcement will come in remarks where Biden is also expected to lay out a series of new steps, including incentives, in an attempt to spur new vaccinations as the Delta variant has rapidly spread throughout the country. It will also follow the decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to require its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated over the course of the next two months.

Biden alluded to the looming announcement on Tuesday.

“That’s under consideration right now,” Biden said, when asked if he would impose a vaccination mandate on federal workers.

While the specifics are still being finalized, the source said, federal workers would be required to attest to their vaccination status or submit to regular testing. The source said the proposal will be roughly similar to what is being implemented in New York City. Additional requirements for the unvaccinated could be added as agencies push to vaccinate their employees.

Biden will not impose the requirement on the US military, despite his authority to do so, for the time being. He is, however, likely to outline how the Department of Defense may seek to approach the issue going forward, the source said.

4:14 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Outbreak clusters led CDC to new information about Delta variant's spread, director says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Investigations of clusters of outbreaks of Covid-19 led the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine that the Delta variant is more likely to infect even fully vaccinated people, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

“We are now actively conducting outbreak investigations of what is occurring in places that are having clusters, and many of you have heard of many of those clusters. What we've learned in that context is that when we examine the rarer breakthrough infections, and we look at the amount of virus in those people, it is pretty similar to the amount of virus in unvaccinated people,” Walensky told reporters in a telephone briefing.

“We are now continuing to follow those clusters to understand the impact of forward transmission of vaccinated people. But again I want to reiterate, we believe the vast majority of transmission is occurring in unvaccinated people and through unvaccinated people,” she added.

“But unlike the Alpha variant that we had back in May, where we didn't believe that if you were vaccinated you could transmit further, this is different now with a Delta variant. And we're seeing now that it's actually possible, if you are a rare breakthrough infection, that you can transmit further, which is the reason for the change," Walensky said.

The CDC updated its masking recommendations Tuesday, saying even fully vaccinated people in areas with high or substantial Covid-19 transmission should resume wearing masks indoors in public situations.

4:10 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

CDC is collecting more data on breakthrough infections, director says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is collecting more data than it has published on breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

The CDC’s website currently only lists 5,914 breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated people – a number that is clearly an undercount.

“We are collecting passive reporting data on people who are hospitalized and who have died, but we recognize that epidemiologically, that is not going to give us the best information with regard to rates of breakthrough infection, because passive data collection is generally underreported,” Walensky told reporters in a telephone briefing.

“In order to counter that, we have been collecting data through more than 20 cohorts of people. These include tens of thousands of people who we are following nationwide, and they include healthcare workers, essential workers, long-term care facilities, and in some of these cohorts we're collecting PCR (test) data from every person in them weekly,” Walensky added.

“So we are absolutely studying and evaluating breakthrough infections in many different sites, many different people, across the country. We are looking at those data on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and we will be reporting on those soon," the CDC director added.

4:04 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Biden says he hopes Americans will follow new CDC mask guidance to help defeat virus

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Biden responded to the new mask guidance from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention in a statement Tuesday, writing that the move to recommend vaccinated Americans wear masks in certain parts of the country “is another step on our journey to defeating this virus.”

“Today’s announcement by the CDC—that new research and concerns about the Delta variant leads CDC to recommend a return to masking in parts of the country—is another step on our journey to defeating this virus. I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas,” Biden wrote.

“Today, the CDC also reaffirmed that we can safely reopen schools this fall—full time. Masking students is inconvenient, I know, but will allow them to learn and be with their classmates with the best available protection,” Biden added.

The President also called on more Americans to get vaccinated in his statement, saying too many Americans are not yet vaccinated. “We still need to do better,” he said.

“By following the science, and by doing our part by getting vaccinated, America can beat COVID. In the meantime, more vaccinations and mask wearing in the areas most impacted by the Delta variant will enable us to avoid the kind of lockdowns, shutdowns, school closures, and disruptions we faced in 2020. Unlike 2020, we have both the scientific knowledge and the tools to prevent the spread of this disease. We are not going back to that,” Biden concluded.

In the statement, the President announced that he will deliver remarks on Thursday outlining the next steps in the administration’s efforts to get more Americans vaccinated.

4:03 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Biden says mandating vaccinations for all federal employees is "under consideration"

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Biden said Tuesday requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for all federal employees is “under consideration.”  

“That’s under consideration right now and if you’re not vaccinated you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were,” Biden said after delivering remarks to members of the intelligence community at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Biden’s answer comes one day after his administration mandated vaccines for health care workers employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Asked if he feels the new revised CDC guidance on masks will lead to confusion for Americans, Biden cast blame on unvaccinated Americans, saying if they had been vaccinated, “we’d be in a very different world.”

“We have a pandemic because of the unvaccinated and they’re sowing enormous confusion. And the more we’ve learned about this virus and the Delta Variant, the more we have to be worried and concerned. There’s only one thing we know for sure, if those other (inaudible) people got vaccinated, we’d be in a very different world,” he said.

3:48 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Here's a look at the level of Covid-19 community spread across the US

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Tuesday to recommend that people who are fully vaccinated wear masks indoors if they are in areas with "substantial" or "high" transmission of Covid-19.

The level of community transmission of Covid-19 varies across the country but nearly half – 46% – of US counties currently have high transmission and 17% have "substantial" transmission, according to CDC data as of Tuesday morning.

Here's a look at a map of the country based on county-level data on the number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people and the test positivity rate during the past seven days, according to data from the CDC.

3:41 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

Everyone should wear masks in schools, CDC director says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Everyone in and around schools should wear masks, even if they are fully vaccinated, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday. 

“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,” Walensky told reporters in a telephone briefing. “This includes schools. CDC recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status,” Walensky added. 

“With the Delta variant, vaccinating more Americans now is more urgent than ever. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates, and among unvaccinated people. This moment, and most importantly the associated illness, suffering and death, could have been avoided with higher vaccination coverage in this country.”

The CDC updated its masking recommendations Tuesday, saying even fully vaccinated people in areas with high or substantial Covid-19 transmission should resume wearing masks. Walensky said scientific evidence indicated that while vaccinated people are far less likely to become infected with Covid-19, with the Delta variant, they may be more able to transmit the virus to others than with earlier lineages of the virus.

3:25 p.m. ET, July 27, 2021

The vast majority of coronavirus transmission is by unvaccinated people, CDC director says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Most coronavirus transmission is coming from unvaccinated people, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

“We believe the vast majority of transmission is occurring in unvaccinated people and through unvaccinated people,” Walensky told reporters on a telephone briefing.

The CDC updated its masking recommendations Tuesday, saying even fully vaccinated people in areas with high or substantial Covid-19 transmission should resume wearing masks.

Walensky said the changes are meant to help protect children under the age of 12, who cannot be vaccinated against Covid-19, as well as immunosuppressed people whose immune systems may not fully protect them – even with vaccination.

“Part of the reason for this guidance is to make sure we can protect those,” Walensky said.