Should everybody be wearing masks again because of delta variant concerns?

delta variant masks
Photo via Ivan Radic/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The highly contagious delta COVID variant has continued its rapid spread through the United States, prompting some officials (but not all) to recommend that everyone—even vaccinated individuals—resume wearing masks while indoors. 

The delta variant may be twice as transmissible as the original COVID-19 strain, according to experts. It quickly became the dominant strain in the U.K. and is well on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the United States with at least 20% of new cases being identified as the delta variant.

It has been identified in more than 90 countries so far, and the variant has a doubling time of around 2 weeks, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The delta variant has become the third most-common strain in California, spreading rapidly through unvaccinated residents. To avoid more lockdowns and quarantine measures, officials in California and throughout the U.S. are urging people to wear their masks while out and about.

The World Health Organization is also recommending that vaccinated people return to wearing masks. At this point, though, the CDC has not followed suit and still says people who have gotten the vaccination can live their lives unmasked.

Masks are an easy and effective way to slow transmission, and the majority of the population has them readily on hand. The donning of masks is all but guaranteed to slow the spread of the delta variant in the U.S.

Masks continue to represent a massive divide in America, however, with a large portion of the population refusing to wear them even in required spaces. These people are almost guaranteed to push back on mask recommendations, particularly as the country puts the worst of the pandemic behind it. 

But the worst may not be behind us, particularly if we can’t keep the multiple COVID variants at bay. Experts warn that the virus may continue to mutate among unvaccinated populations, putting even those who’ve gotten a vaccine at risk.

So, while many states and counties are unlikely to return to the mask mandates of 2020, it is advisable for everyone, even fully vaccinated individuals, to wear a face mask whenever in public. 

Read more on the delta variant: 

Sources: CNBC, Los Angeles Times, KTAR, New York Times, Scientific American

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