MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Centers for Disease Control announced on Tuesday that fully vaccinated people in communities with substantial or high COVID transmission should once again wear face masks in some indoor public settings.
The announcement comes as the highly contagious Delta variant has caused a rise in cases COVID nationwide, including some breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated.
"There's a lot of people out there that are in vulnerable situation who are not using basic measure of protection," said Dr. Zulma Berrios with West Kendall Baptist Hospital.
The CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
Nearly 44% of counties have what the CDC considers to be high COVID-19 transmission. That means 100 more cases per 100,000 people or at least 10% positivity rate in the past seven days.
That's the case in all 67 counties in Florida, which accounted for nearly a quarter of all cases in the United States – more than any other state.
"In recent days I have seen new scientific data from recent outbreak investigations showing that the Delta variant behaves uniquely differently from past strains of the virus that cause COVID-19," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a media briefing on Tuesday.
"This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations," she said. "This is not a decision that we or CDC has made lightly."
When the CDC previously revised its guidance on May 13 for vaccinated people to unmask, Delta only represented 1% of reported infections. Now, according to the CDC, it represents at least 83% of cases.
Florida also reported more COVID-19 deaths than any other state over the past week – a total of 282 over the past week – the sixth highest per capita rate of deaths in the country.
Boca Raton Regional Hospital Dr. Samer Fahmy said, "Locally, in our community, we've seen a sharp increase in the number of infections. While masking is not perfect, it's an effective way in bending that curve."
With Miami-Dade's positivity rate climbing, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced she will holding a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the steps the county is "taking to combat the surge in COVID cases and protect our community."
The state has fully vaccinated 60% of its residents, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.
The vaccination rate is higher in South Florida.
It's 76% in Miami-Dade, 68% in Broward and 69% in Monroe County. Despite that, the COVID-19 positivity rates were 15.1% in Florida, 10.1% in Miami-Dade, 10.9% in Broward and 11.6% in Monroe County as of July 23, the most recently weekly report released by the FDOH.
Meanwhile, the guidance for unvaccinated people remains the same: continue masking until they are fully vaccinated.
The CDC's latest guidance also recommends for community leaders to encourage vaccination and mask-wearing to prevent further outbreaks in areas of substantial and high transmission. The guidance notes, "Wearing a mask is most important if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area."
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