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July 27, 2021 coronavirus news

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What we covered here

  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines to urge vaccinated people in certain areas of the country to resume wearing masks indoors.
  • The CDC is also recommending everyone in K-12 schools mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status, an administration health official tells CNN.
  • Many health experts have recommended the use of masks to protect against infection as the Delta variant continues to spread across the US, especially for children who are too young to be vaccinated.

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Los Angeles will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination or regular testing for all city employees

The city of Los Angeles will require all of its employees to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing, city officials announced Tuesday in a push toward mandating the vaccine for employees.

“The fourth wave is here, and the choice for Angelenos couldn’t be clearer — get vaccinated or get COVID-19,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “This urgent need means that if you’re a City employee, we’re now going to require you to either show that you’re vaccinated or take a weekly test, and we’re committed to pursuing a full vaccine mandate. I urge employers across Los Angeles to follow this example.” 

The move comes after the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in Los Angeles County nearly doubled in the last two weeks. There are currently 745 people hospitalized with the virus compared to 372 people two weeks ago, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The health department said the increase in hospitalizations is being driven by “the more aggressive Delta variant, low vaccination rates in certain communities and more intermingling of unmasked individuals.”

According to the public health department, “almost everyone hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County is unvaccinated.”

The new policy will require city workers to show proof of vaccination or produce proof of a negative Covid-19 test on a weekly basis.

“In addition to the new requirement, the Mayor and City Council will aggressively pursue a vaccine mandate for all City workers once the vaccines receive full approval by the FDA,” the statement said.

The announcement comes just one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that all state employees and health care workers will have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or be tested at least once a week. He also encouraged local government and businesses to adopt similar measures. 

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also announced in a tweet Tuesday that city employees will need to be vaccinated or show a weekly negative Covid-19 test result. Garcia said that 72% of city employees are already vaccinated. 

In a meeting Tuesday, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger expressed support for getting all county employees vaccinated.

“We are preaching, I think we need to practice,” Barger said in the meeting. 

Vaccination remains the "bedrock" of ending the Covid-19 pandemic, US Surgeon General says

While masking up will help reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the US, getting vaccinated is still key to ending the pandemic, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Tuesday.  

“The bottom line is the masks will help us reduce spread further, but the vaccinations remain the bedrock of ending this pandemic,” Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Tuesday to recommend fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission of Covid-19 – more than half of all US counties.

“What’s really important, also, is to say what has not changed,” Murthy added. “And what has not changed is that vaccines still work. They still save lives. They still prevent hospitalizations at a remarkably high rate.”

Doctors need to urgently help get more people vaccinated against Covid, CDC says in health alert

Doctors and public health professionals need to act urgently to get more Americans vaccinated against coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. 

The CDC issued a health alert saying the Delta variant was driving new transmission and said doctors need to work harder to encourage vaccination.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing this Health Alert Network Health Advisory to notify public health practitioners and clinicians about the urgent need to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage across the United States to prevent surges in new infections that could increase COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality, overwhelm healthcare capacity, and widen existing COVID-19-related health disparities,” the CDC said in its alert.

“Increasing vaccination coverage is especially urgent in areas where current coverage is low. Unvaccinated persons account for the majority of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, especially the highly infectious Delta variant (B.1.617.2), are accelerating spread of infection,” it added.

Earlier the CDC revised its guidance for fully vaccinated people, saying they should wear masks indoors in public in places with higher transmission of the virus.

“COVID-19 cases have increased over 300% nationally from June 19 to July 23, 2021, along with parallel increases in hospitalizations and deaths driven by the highly transmissible B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant,” the CDC said in Tuesday’s alert.

“While significant progress has been made to make COVID-19 vaccine widely available, disparities in vaccination coverage persist across population groups and geographic areas. As of July 23, 2021, 1,856 (63%) of the 2,945 counties with available vaccination data have particularly low vaccination coverage, defined here as less than 40% of the population being fully vaccinated.”

More than 100 unruly airplane passengers reported to FAA in the last week

More than 100 unruly airplane passengers have been reported to federal authorities in the last week, according to new numbers from the Federal Aviation Administration.  

The FAA said it has now received 3,615 reports since Jan. 1, an increase of 106 since last Tuesday’s figure. Sixty-one of the newly-reported incidents involved a violation of the federal transportation mask mandate, which remains in effect.   

The agency opened 29 new investigations into possible violations of federal rules and began the process of fining passengers in eight additional incidents.  

In total, the FAA has opened 610 investigations this year into unruly passengers. Historically, the agency has opened an average of 180 cases annually.  

The FAA says it is pursuing a policy of zero tolerance for in-flight violence and rule-breaking. It has proposed more than $682,000 in fines against rowdy passengers.

More than 38,600 children and teens caught Covid-19 last week, pediatrician group finds

More than 38,600 children and teenagers caught Covid-19 last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday.

After decreases in reported cases over the past couple of months, the July numbers started trending upward again.

The group counted 38,654 new cases from July 15-22. That is a slight rise in cases from the week before, but it’s more than triple what was being reported at the end of June. The definition of a child varies by state, but generally includes those up to age 17 or 18.

More than 4.13 million kids have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. Kids represent more than 14% of the weekly reported cases.

At this time, it still appears that severe illness is rare among children, according to the academy, which represents pediatricians. Children accounted for 1.3%-3.6% of the hospitalizations, depending on the state.

Eight states have reported no child deaths from Covid-19 during the pandemic. As of Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 517 Covid-19 deaths among children ages 0-17.

More school districts requiring masks following updated CDC guidance

More major school districts are deciding to require masks in schools, following updated guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Tuesday, including Gwinnett County, the largest district in Georgia, which is now reversing its stance and will require masks.

Clark County Public Schools in Nevada, the fifth largest district in the country, also updated its mask guidance on Tuesday, following updated recommendations from the CDC, suggesting all K-12 students should wear masks in school.

“Once again, the District is committed to opening schools for all students for in-person learning, while promoting the health and safety of all students and staff,” a release said.

Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland will also require masks for all students, staff and visitors in schools, “regardless of vaccination status,” according to a tweet Tuesday.

“Face coverings are not required outdoors, but strongly are recommended for unvaccinated individuals,” the tweet went on to say.

In Gwinnett County, Georgia, where school starts next week, the district has reversed its stance and will now require students and staff to wear masks.

“Gwinnett County Public Schools has updated its back-to-school plans to require masks. As of July 28, 2021, masks will be required for students, staff, and visitors to all Gwinnett County Public Schools’ facilities and on school buses, regardless of vaccination status,” the district said in a release Tuesday.

The district cited guidance from the CDC and current Covid-19 rates in Gwinnett County as its reason in reversing its decision.

“The facts and recommendations are clear… masks do make a difference and we must do all we can to keep students in school, in person,” said Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks.

Of the largest 20 school districts in the US, all are requiring masks for students when the school year begins, except for the districts in Florida and Texas, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Gov. Greg Abbott have banned mask mandates.

In Texas, “earlier this summer, Governor Abbott issued an executive order banning mask mandates on public school campuses so HISD cannot require them but those who want to wear mask may certainly do so,” Dennis Spellman, spokesperson for Houston Independent School District, told CNN in an email on Tuesday.

Fully vaccinated people exposed to Covid-19 should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, CDC says

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advises fully vaccinated people who have been exposed to someone who has Covid-19, or is suspected to have it, to get tested themselves three to five days after exposure.

Additionally, the CDC now recommends fully vaccinated people with possible or confirmed exposure to Covid-19 wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days, or until they have a confirmed negative test.

“Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result, and isolate if they test positive,” according to the revised guidance.

“Fully vaccinated people who live in a household with someone who is immunosuppressed, at increased risk of severe disease, or unvaccinated (including children under 12 years of age) could also consider masking at home for 14 days following a known exposure or until they receive a negative test result. Most fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from work following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 if they wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or if they receive a negative test result from a test taken 3-5 days after exposure. They should isolate if they test positive.”

Previously, the CDC said anyone who has been fully vaccinated does not need to get tested, mask or quarantine if exposed to someone with Covid-19, but that testing should be considered if a person who is vaccinated develops symptoms. 

This is one of several changes the CDC made on Tuesday to recommendations for fully vaccinated people. The CDC now says fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors when in areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission of Covid-19, which includes more than half of all US counties. 

White House reimposes mask requirements indoors

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.

Biden will announce vaccination requirement across federal government on Thursday

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.

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

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.

CDC is collecting more data on breakthrough infections, director says

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

Everyone should wear masks in schools, CDC director says

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.

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

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.

Even fully vaccinated people can catch and spread the Delta variant, CDC director says

Even fully vaccinated people can become infected with the Delta variant of coronavirus, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

“In recent days I have seen new scientific data from recent outbreak investigations showing that that Delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus that cause Covid-19,” Walensky told a media briefing.

Walensky said coronavirus vaccines reduced the risk of symptomatic infection seven-fold and reduced the risk of hospitalization by 20-fold. 

The CDC updated its masking recommendations Tuesday, saying people in areas with high or substantial Covid-19 transmission should resume wearing masks, regardless of their vaccination status.

CDC recommends vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas of "substantial" and "high" Covid-19 spread

To prevent further spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, 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, which includes more than half of all US counties. 

Nearly half – 46% – of US counties currently have high transmission and 17% have “substantial” transmission, according to CDC data as of Tuesday morning.

In two states, Arkansas and Louisiana, every county is currently listed as having “high” levels of community transmission of Covid-19, according to CDC data. Several other states – including Missouri, Mississippi and Alabama – also have “high” transmission in nearly every county. In Florida, every county was listed with high transmission on Monday; as of Tuesday morning, one – Glades County – has substantial transmission

Meanwhile, the guidance for people who are unvaccinated remains the same: continue masking until they are fully vaccinated.

The CDC’s latest guidance also recommends that community leaders encourage vaccination and mask-wearing to prevent further outbreaks in areas of substantial and high transmission. The agency recommends that local jurisdictions encourage universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Some background: Earlier this month, the CDC’s Covid-19 school guidance noted that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks, and then about a week later the American Academy of Pediatrics issued stricter guidance recommending that everyone older than age 2 wear a mask in schools, regardless of vaccination their status. Now the updated CDC guidance recommends everyone in schools wear a mask.

The last time the CDC updated its mask guidance was two months ago, to say most people who are fully vaccinated could go without masks indoors. That guidance moved so quickly that administration officials were informed less than a day before – and many public health experts were taken by surprise. This time, the CDC’s updated guidance has been expected for a few days.

As the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant continues to circulate across the United States, top federal health officials debated whether to issue new guidance on masks, meeting on Sunday night to review new data and evidence regarding the transmissibility of the variant and breakthrough cases among vaccinated people, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

The CDC emphasized on Tuesday that while some breakthrough cases have occurred, getting vaccinated still prevents severe illness, hospitalization and death. The CDC also noted that the highest spread of Covid-19 cases and severe outcomes is happening in areas with low vaccination rates and among people who are unvaccinated.

Census survey shows most adults scaled back on preventative behaviors after getting vaccinated

More than half of vaccinated adults scaled back on prevention behaviors since getting a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

About 53% of vaccinated adults said that they “decreased prevention behaviors since getting a vaccine.” On the other hand, about 4% of vaccinated adults said that they “increased prevention behaviors since getting a vaccine” and about 43% said they made “no change.”

White people were the most likely to drop preventative behaviors, with 65% of adults saying that they “decreased prevention behaviors since getting a vaccine.”

Black people, on the other hand, were most likely to continue with the same preventative behaviors or more after getting a Covid-19 vaccine, with 75% of adults saying that they made no change or increased prevention behaviors since getting a Covid-19 vaccine. 

Adults with children in their household were more likely to keep the same prevention behaviors than those with no children in the house, according to the survey data.

Responses to the latest Household Pulse Survey were collected between June 23 and July 5. By that time, the Delta variant of the coronavirus had become the dominant strain in the US, accounting for more than 60% of cases.

Soon: CDC will recommend universal masking in schools

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status, according to an administration health official.

The announcement from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will be made at 3 p.m. ET today.

The CDC will also urge all people to wear masks in areas with high Covid-19 transmission, according to sources familiar with the announcement. This decision comes as nearly two-thirds of US counties have high or substantial transmission of Covid-19, according to CDC data

The White House is hoping that the new guidance will give local officials “a lot of cover” to implement new mask mandates where appropriate.

Officials in Los Angeles County in California, Provincetown, Massachusetts, St. Louis, Missouri, and Savannah, Georgia, have already reinstated mask mandates because of rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations among Americans who have refused to get vaccinated.

CNN’s Alyssa Kraus, Kaitlan Collins, John Harwood, Kevin Liptak, Jeremy Diamond and Kate Sullivan contributed to this post.

Here are 5 ways to get your kids to wear masks

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status, as it updates its masking guidelines in response to the more transmissible Delta variant, according to an administration health official.

We know that little humans pull and tug at the masks constantly, and kids don’t just stop there. They let the tops fall beneath their noses and sometimes even yank the things down below their mouths, just because they can.

Despite all these protests from children in countries where face coverings aren’t already part of the culture, masks are a must this fall, according to the CDC.

The CDC has already recommended that all kids over the age of 2 wear face coverings in indoor public places to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

That means that now is the time to get kids back on board with the reality of masks in schools. We know kids around the world who already know how to wear masks — it’s simply part of their routine when they leave the house.

How do you get your child there? We’ve asked doctors, psychologists and parents for their best strategies for getting little ones to wear face coverings and keep them on.

Read their top five suggestions here.

Infected vaccinated people carry the same Delta viral load as the unvaccinated, unpublished study shows 

New unpublished data showing that vaccinated people infected with the Delta coronavirus variant can have as much virus as those who are unvaccinated is the primary driver for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest mask guidance change, according to a source involved with the process. Overall, vaccinated people still play a small role in transmission and breakthrough infections are rare. 

In addition, the source noted two other factors that led to this decision: the prevalence of Delta and low vaccine uptake. 

When the guidance was initially revised on May 13 for vaccinated people to unmask, Delta only represented 1% of reported infections. Now, according to the CDC, it represents at least 83% of cases. 

The source also noted that the country’s overall level of vaccination is lower than what was initially expected and that most transmission is happening in areas with vaccination levels below 40% of the population. 

White House press secretary praises CDC for following data ahead of expected update on mask guidance

White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not get ahead of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the new mask guidance that is expected to be issued Tuesday afternoon, but she praised the agency for following the data in recommending vaccinated Americans wear masks in certain cases. 

“I know there’s a lot of reporting out there about the CDC guidance. It is not only appropriate for them to make the decisions. It’s also appropriate for them to officially announce their own guidance,” Psaki said at Tuesday’s White House press briefing. 

Psaki said that due to the Delta variant, a much more transmissible strain of the coronavirus, the CDC followed the data before making their recommendations.  

“The reality is we are dealing with a much different strain of this virus, than we were even earlier in the spring, back in May, when the masking guidance was provided by the CDC at that time. That is their job. Their job is to look at evolving information, evolving data, an evolving historic pandemic and provide guidance to the American public. That’s exactly what they will do and what they will provide specific details on later this afternoon,” she said.  

Asked if the President’s July 4 speech saying the US was close to declaring independence from the virus was premature, Psaki said the President made clear that the pandemic was not over and unvaccinated individuals were still at risk. 

“He made clear that it was not over, that those who were unvaccinated were still at risk. He made clear that you were protected from serious illness, disease, or hospitalization, if you were vaccinated. That remains the case, and he encouraged people who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated,” she said, again stressing that the role of the federal government is to monitor evolving data and then provide guidance to Americans, which was done in this instance. 

Ahead of Biden’s travel to Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Psaki did say the administration is prepared to follow the new guidance expected to be issued by the CDC when it comes to any of the President’s travel and stands ready to wear masks again at the White House should the numbers in DC change.

“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.

“That means, we will be prepared to wear masks again if required if the guidance is leading to that, as would the President, and that will continue to be the case,” she added.

Vaccinated people can still spread Covid-19, health official says as reason to wear masks

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to update it guidelines on Tuesday to urge vaccinated people in certain areas of the country to resume wearing masks because of Covid-19.

A senior administration official said the decision was spurred by the more transmissible Delta variant.

“It’s based on the fact that the Delta variant is clearly more transmissible than the prior ones,” the official said.

A health official says, based on the latest data, officials believe vaccinated people only represent a small amount of coronavirus transmission and the overwhelming majority of spread is still by unvaccinated people. But they know breakthrough cases can happen and emerging data suggests some vaccinated people can spread it, which is the driving factor behind Tuesday’s decision, as they continue to study it. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to explain the decision at the 3 p.m. Tuesday briefing, the official said. 

New CDC mask guidance is coming soon, but some states are banning mask mandates in schools

As students return to school in the coming weeks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce today that it is recommending everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

However, some states have enacted legislation that prohibits districts from requiring masks in schools. Those states include: Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Vermont.

Although the list of those banning mask mandates has been constantly changing, so far they are all states with Republican governors.

In states such as Utah and Iowa, governors cemented into law the ban on school mask mandates. However, in response to concerns that the bill in Utah oversteps local control, it includes a provision allowing schools to require masks during outbreaks only if the decision is made in collaboration with local health departments.

In South Carolina, Texas and Georgia, the governors all signed executive orders taking steps to limit schools’ abilities to implement mask mandates. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster was the first to issue an executive order preventing schools from issuing mask mandates.

“With regard to mask requirements in public schools, the governor has directed DHEC - in consultation with the S.C. Department of Education - to develop and distribute a standardized form a parent or legal guardian may sign to opt their child out of mask requirements imposed by any public school official or public school district,” the May 11 order said.

These different state laws prohibiting mask mandates in schools conflict with the expected guidance of the CDC later today, which will likely recommend everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new Covid-19 guidance on July 19 that recommends universal masking in schools for everyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status. 

There are some states — including Connecticut, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, Virginia and Washington — that follow the AAP guidance to require masks among both vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

Moreover, California quickly reversed its school mask policy last week after announcing that students who refused to wear a mask indoors would be turned away. For now, the state will require masks but leave decisions on how to handle enforcement up to the districts.

CDC to recommend everyone wear a mask in school settings 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce Tuesday that it is recommending everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, an administration health official tells CNN.

A health official says, based on the latest data, officials believe vaccinated people only represent a small amount of coronavirus transmission and the overwhelming majority of spread is still by unvaccinated people. But they know breakthrough cases can happen and emerging data suggests some vaccinated people can spread it, which is the driving factor behind Tuesday’s decision, as they continue to study it.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to make the announcement at a 3 p.m. ET briefing.

Current CDC guidance says that all people age 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated wear masks at school.

These places are urging residents to mask up – regardless of vaccination status

As long as vaccination rates are low and if cases continue to surge, some experts say returning to masks may be a necessary layer of protection for everyone.

“The only way to get the unvaccinated to mask up is to mask everyone up,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said Sunday.

Several places have made the push to get their residents back in face coverings.

A group of eight health directors in the Puget Sound area of Washington state are recommending masking indoors regardless of vaccination status.

“The health officers of King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and Grays Harbor counties have joined together to pass on their best public health advice to protect you, your family, and our communities,” the group said in a joint statement.

The city of Savannah, Georgia, has moved beyond recommendations, instead reinstating a mask mandate effective immediately.

During a news conference on Monday, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said everyone, regardless of vaccination status, is required to wear facial coverings inside all city government facilities, as well as Savannah city schools and early childhood centers. The mandate does not apply to private businesses or institutions, but the mayor is strongly encouraging owners to implement the mask requirement.

In St. Louis, city and county official also implemented an indoor mask mandate that went into effect Monday, but Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit in hopes of stopping it.

Schmitt blasted the reinstated mask mandate as “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious, unconstitutional, and unlawful,” in a statement Monday evening.

“This continued government overreach is unacceptable and unconstitutional, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine,” Schmitt said in the statement announcing the lawsuit. “There is absolutely no scientific reason to continue to force children to wear a mask in school,” he added.

Many health experts and agencies have recommended the use of masks to protect against infection, especially for children who are too young to be vaccinated.

Government bodies are starting to embrace vaccination requirements

As the Covid-19 Delta variant continues to spread throughout the US, some health experts have suggested mandating that people be vaccinated in order to work in certain venues or attend school. They say it could be a necessary measure to getting the country to a fully protective level of vaccination. Now, some government entities are taking the suggestion.

In August, California will require all state employees and healthcare workers to provide proof of vaccination status or get regular tests, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

Unvaccinated state employees will be required to get tested at least once a week and will be required to wear N95 masks at all times. Unvaccinated healthcare workers will have to get tested at least two times a week, state health officials said.

A similar requirement will be implemented in New York City, where all of the workforce for the city’s agencies, including schools, fire and police, will be given the choice between vaccination or regular testing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Monday that Covid-19 vaccines will be mandatory for certain healthcare workers in the agency. Those workers include “physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors – who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, visit VHA facilities or provide direct care to those VA serves.”

“We’re mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because it’s the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said.

Despite initial reluctance to support vaccine mandates, the White House said Monday it supports the call made Monday by a large collective of medical associations that vaccines be mandated for all US health personnel.

“These actions, in our view, are meant to keep patients and employees safe and in fact, I expect our own federal health care providers may look at similar requirements as they do with other vaccines,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We certainly believe that health officials are on the frontlines of being vulnerable to getting Covid and we certainly support these actions by these hospital associations.”

St. Louis reinstates indoor mask mandate

St. Louis reinstated an indoor mask mandate on Monday to stop the spread of the Covid-19, especially as the Delta variant surges across the country.

The mandate requires people ages 5 and older to wear masks indoors and on public transportation.

At a news conference, Mayor Tishaura Jones said St. Louis is still at a “dangerous point” with the virus, facing infection numbers not seen since December. The mask mandate, she said, applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The mandate comes only a day before the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce that it is recommending everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

About 41% of Missouri’s population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. St. Louis has fully vaccinated just 35.4% of its residents, the most recent dashboard by the state shows.

Moreover, St. Louis is not the only city implementing mask mandates. Los Angeles County in CaliforniaProvincetown, Massachusetts; and Savannah, Georgia have similarly returned to universal indoor mask requirements recently.

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against St. Louis’ mask mandate, calling it “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious, unconstitutional, and unlawful.”

Updated CDC mask guidance spurred by "more transmissible" Delta variant, official says

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to update it guidelines on Tuesday to urge vaccinated people in certain areas of the country to resume wearing masks because of Covid-19.

A senior administration official said the decision was spurred by the more transmissible Delta variant.

“It’s based on the fact that the Delta variant is clearly more transmissible than the prior ones,” the official said.

New evidence found that the levels of virus found in breakthrough cases among the vaccinated people are similar to those found in unvaccinated individuals who contract coronavirus, raising concerns that vaccinated individuals may be able to spread the virus, the officials said.

Versions of the virus that dominated in the past generally did not appear to be transmitted by people who had been fully vaccinated.

“When you get information about risks and how to mitigate risks, there’s a public health obligation to let people know about it,” the official said.

The White House is hoping that the new guidance will give local officials “a lot of cover” to implement new mask mandates where appropriate.

CDC expected to recommend vaccinated people in some areas of the US resume wearing masks

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to update it guidelines on Tuesday to urge vaccinated people in certain areas of the country to resume wearing masks because of Covid-19.

People in areas with high or substantial Covid-19 transmission should resume wearing masks, the CDC is expected to say, according to sources familiar with the announcement.

Nearly two-thirds of US counties have high or substantial transmission of Covid-19, according to CDC data; 46% of counties have high transmission and 17% have substantial transmission.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to announce the decision at a 3 p.m. ET briefing on Tuesday.

CNN reported on Tuesday that top officials met on Sunday night to go over the new data and evidence regarding the transmissibility of the variant and breakthrough cases, according to a person familiar with the meeting. 

The CDC updated mask guidance two months ago to say most people who are fully vaccinated could go without masks indoors. The guidance moved so quickly that administration officials were informed less than a day before.

The US could see 200,000 Covid-19 cases a day within the next 6 weeks, former CDC director warns

The US could see about four times the current rate of Covid-19 cases in the next four to six weeks as the Delta variant spreads and the population hits a wall on vaccinations, the former CDC director told CNN.

“We’re heading into a rough time. It’s likely, if our trajectory is similar to that in the United Kingdom, that we could see as many as 200,000 cases a day,” Dr. Tom Frieden said, adding the US likely won’t see the “horrific death tolls” of earlier in the pandemic thanks to the number of vulnerable people who are vaccinated.

But, he said, “You will see a steady increase in deaths, and these are preventable deaths.

The last time there were more than 200,000 new US cases in one day was in January, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The Delta variant is believed to be more transmissible than other strains – so much so, Frieden said, that it is essentially finding people who are unvaccinated.

And much of the country remains unvaccinated, despite incentive programs and urging from health experts. Only 49.1% of the US population is fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Daily vaccination rates are slowing, with only about two thirds of the eligible population having received at least one dose, the CDC said.

Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Dr. Paul Offit, said vaccination rates have hit a wall and that could have serious consequences.

“Now we are at a point where there is a solid 25 or 30 percent of the population that’s saying they don’t want to get vaccinated, that they are okay with allowing this virus to continue to spread, continue to do harm and, worst of all, continue to possibly create variants that are going to be resistant to vaccine-induced immunity,” he said.

And vaccinated people will likely pay a price for those choices, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said. Even though vaccines offer strong protection against the virus, being surrounded by unvaccinated people could lead to infection spillover, and vaccinated people could get sick or pass on the infection to their loved ones, she said.

“By people saying ‘I’m not going to get vaccinated,’ they’re actually choosing to endanger everybody else, and they are prolonging the pandemic,” Wen said.

Despite the risk posed by a large swath of unvaccinated people, Frieden said vaccines are still helping to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

“For every (case) that ends in death in the coming weeks, there would have been hundreds that end in death if there hadn’t been vaccinations,” Frieden said.

CDC expected to issue updated guidance on masks

Top federal health officials have debated whether to issue new guidance on masks and are close to announcing their decision as the highly contagious Delta variant fuels new outbreaks in the United States.

Top officials huddled on Sunday night to go over the new data and evidence regarding the transmissibility of the variant and breakthrough cases, according to a person familiar with the talks. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to announce the decision at a 3 p.m. ET briefing on Tuesday.

Two months ago, when the CDC updated mask guidance saying most who are fully vaccinated could go without masks indoors, the guidance moved so quickly that administration officials were informed less than a day before. This time, the process is moving in a more methodical way as they decide how to proceed.

CDC did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

White House officials have repeatedly said it would be up to the CDC whether to change official guidance and that they would follow the lead of health and medical experts. The renewed administration discussions about revisiting mask recommendations revolve around what messages on masking the White House should offer, and what guidance the CDC should issue, sources familiar with the matter have told CNN.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the President’s chief Covid-19 medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that revising mask guidance for vaccinated Americans was under “active consideration” and that he was part of the discussion. Fauci also said the US was “going in the wrong direction” as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise, particularly among unvaccinated Americans.

President Joe Biden said last week that two dozen members of his Covid response team were examining the surge in cases and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated and determining whether new mask recommendations were necessary.

Officials in several places, including Los Angeles, have been forced to return to earlier requirements on masks because of surging Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations among Americans who have refused to get vaccinated.

The White House this week announced it was maintaining existing coronavirus travel restrictions amid surging cases triggered by the Delta variant. 

The Biden administration recently extended non-essential travel restrictions for the US northern and southern borders until Aug. 21. The US has been limiting non-essential travel along both borders since the start of the pandemic and extending those restrictions on a monthly basis.