Last month, the CDC issued controversial new guidelines on mask-wearing, saying fully vaccinated people no longer need to don them in most situations, including indoors. Now, with the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading rapidly, some experts are wondering whether it's time to insist everyone mask back up, the New York Times reports. The WHO, which has never wavered in its recommendation that everyone wear masks regardless of vaccination status, reiterated that position last week. And on Monday—less than two weeks after California dropped its mask mandate and reopened fully—Los Angeles County health officials recommended everyone don face masks indoors, whether they're vaccinated or not. The recommendation is not, however, a new mandate, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Health officials in Chicago and New York City so far say they don't plan to require masks, and the CDC hasn't signaled any such intention regarding its recommendations. But Israel recently re-imposed its mask mandate 10 days after lifting it, despite an aggressive vaccination campaign, and countries in the Asia-Pacific region have been bringing back stay-home orders and other restrictions thanks to new surges blamed on the Delta variant. Delta could be doubly contagious compared to the original coronavirus, and while vaccines have proven effective against it, they aren't quite as effective against it as they are against most other variants. Countries like Britain, where two-thirds of the population is at least partially vaccinated, have seen sharp increases in case numbers thanks to Delta. The scientists who spoke to the Times largely agree that continuing to mask indoors is a good idea, but they also note it will be hard to reverse the trajectory the US is on, due to how divisive masking has become. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)