On Tuesday, the CDC revised mask guidance. The new guidelines call for all people, including vaccinated individuals, to wear a mask inside due to the surge in cases and the delta variant. These guidelines extend to all K-12 schools as well.
Variants, Breakthrough Cases, and Viral Load
CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, describes “the delta variant as, in effect, a different virus, capable of generating outbreaks of infection even among people who are vaccinated.”¹ Walensky added insight stating, “recent studies had shown that those vaccinated individuals who do become infected with COVID have just as much viral load as the unvaccinated, making it possible for them to spread the virus to others.”²
“Vaccinated people are transmitting it, and the extent is unclear, but there’s no doubt they’re transmitting it,” Fauci said. “People who are vaccinated, even when they’re asymptomatic.”¹
Pandemic of the Unvaccinated?
With this new information, it is hard to know just how much of the recent uptick in cases is known to be breakthrough or from an unvaccinated person. Recently, the push for vaccinations has become even stronger as it was suggested that the surge was due to unvaccinated individuals.
Testing guidelines have changed for the vaccinated, therefore, it is much less clear how many may be asymptomatic carriers. Fewer places require people who’ve been vaccinated to be tested, while testing for the unvaccinated still remains a high priority.³
With such different standards in regards to testing, and now confirmation as to the viral load of vaccinated individuals being higher than suspected, it is hard to tell if this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated or breakthrough cases as well.
The Push for Vaccination
The call still remains for more people to be vaccinated. Several people are asserting the FDA should rush approval of the vaccines to overcome vaccine hesitancy. There is a group of people that remain steadfast in their decision not to get the vaccine⁴ and a group of professionals calling the FDA to slow their approval.
The indication that the viral load in the unvaccinated and the vaccinated being indistinguishable leaves many wondering whether the vaccines are effective. Yet, many organizations including states like California, cities like New York, and federal agencies such as the VA are calling for vaccine mandates after the DOJ indicated the mandates could be legal.
Schools and COVID
With the news of the new masking guidelines, teachers, students, and parents are responding. One high school teacher, Jeremy Adams, calls the mask guidelines “demoralizing.”⁴ Adams asserts that most teachers got the vaccine simply to avoid the masks.⁵
Neala Hadley’s son developed an infection after wearing a mask. The boy still has scarring on his face and ears. Hadley indicated her son “won’t go back” if he has to wear a mask.⁵
There have been several studies indicating children, and schools in particular, are not super spreaders of COVID.⁶ There have also been studies indicating the dangers of wearing a mask, specifically for children.⁷,⁸ Studies also indicate the ineffectiveness of masks when it comes to coughs and sneezes.⁹