Sixteen months after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, millions of Americans think COVID-19 is a thing of the past that no one need worry about anymore, like polio or belly button charms. Unfortunately, that is far from the case, largely thanks to the people who’ve refused to get vaccinated and to the delta variant, which is causing spikes in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. One obvious, easy way to deal with this troubling trend would be for vaccine holdouts to finally get their shots, but that would require Republicans to stop feeding the public lies about both the virus and getting inoculated, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon. And because this White House, unlike the last one, actually gives a shit about people dying, it’s apparently considering trying to stop the worrying trend. Per The Washington Post:
Top White House aides and Biden administration officials are debating whether they should urge vaccinated Americans to wear masks in more settings as the delta variant causes spikes in coronavirus infections across the country, according to six people familiar with the discussions. The talks are in a preliminary phase and their result could be as simple as new messaging from top White House officials. But some of the talks include officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who are separately examining whether to update their masking guidance, according to a Biden administration aide and a federal health official.
Officials cautioned that any new formal guidance would have to come from the CDC, and they maintained that the White House has taken a hands-off approach with the agency to ensure they are not interfering with the work of scientists. But the high-level discussions reflect rising concerns across the administration about the threat of the delta variant and a renewed focus on what measures may need to be reintroduced to slow its spread. One idea batted around by some officials would be to ask all Americans to wear masks when vaccinated and unvaccinated people mix at public places or indoors, such as at malls or movie theaters, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
While the CDC said in May that fully vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear a mask in most settings, public health experts note that the situation has changed significantly in the intervening months, with the delta variant accounting for 83% of new infections, up from 50% during the week of July 3. According to the Post, the U.S. is seeing more than 40,000 new cases a day—a dramatic increase from a low of roughly 11,000 cases per day in June. People infected with the delta variant are said to carry a viral load that is a whopping 1,000 times larger than previous versions of the virus. Breakthrough infections are also occurring among vaccinated individuals, though being vaccinated has largely resulted in much milder cases, while the people who refused to get the shot and subsequently caught COVID-19 are on their deathbeds wishing they’d done so.
Officials said the White House would defer to the CDC on whether to recommend broader use of face coverings, including among the vaccinated, according to two administration officials familiar with the talks. “This should be CDC’s call,” one official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to speak to the news media. The official noted that [Joe] Biden and his deputies have vowed to “follow the science,” in contrast to President Donald Trump, who often pressured the CDC and other scientific agencies to modify their guidance last year. “But as we saw in May, there are problems with just leaving it to the CDC,” the official added, referring to the agency’s decision to relax its mask recommendations on May 13, which caught the White House by surprise.