By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force
We have an unfortunate update to share out of the CDC yesterday, July 27, 2021. Short story, do not throw away your “Masks Required” signs.
What Did the CDC Change About Mask Recommendations?
In the afternoon of Tuesday, July 27th, the CDC updated its “Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People,” in which the CDC recommends:
- fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings in areas where there is substantial or high transmission;
- fully vaccinated people can choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated; and
- fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
Although the guidance speaks in absolutes, we think that the general limitations that have applied to all prior mask mandates throughout the pandemic continue to inform this updated guidance; i.e., “public indoor settings” is intended to cover locations where there is the potential for exposure to another individual, and not where an employee is “alone in a room” or “alone in a vehicle.”
Is Your County Experiencing Substantial or High Levels of Transmission?
To determine whether your workplace is in a county experiencing substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, the CDC uses two different indicators, the higher of which prevails:
- total new cases per 100,000 persons over the past seven days; and
- positive test rate over the past seven days.