WASHINGTON, D.C. – Just when we through we were out, COVID pulls us back a few steps. In the wake of the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) revision of their COVID-19 guidelines on Tuesday – stating that due the Delta variant, individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear masks indoors in high-spread areas – both the White House and the House of Representatives have reinstated mask mandates, backed by fines for non-compliance.
In addition, the announcement has caused numerous cities and municipalities across the country to issue new mask mandates, including Los Angeles and Yolo County in California, Kansas City, the entire state of Oregon, and multiple counties in Nevada. More are expected to follow in the days and weeks ahead, ushering back the specter of pandemic-era health restrictions that many Americans had hoped were gone for good.
Currently, the Delta variant is attributed to the vast majority of new COVID infections in the United States, and new cases are currently surging, especially in regions with low vaccination rates, according to Capitol Attending Physician Brian Monahan.
“In the past two weeks, USA coronavirus cases have significantly increased, now approaching 100,000 cases per day,” he said. “The Delta variant virus has been detected in Washington, DC and in the Capitol buildings. It represents a dire health risk to unvaccinated individuals and is not without some risk to the vaccinated individuals or their unvaccinated household contacts.”
Monahan is recommending that individuals either residing in a risk area, or who are traveling to one, should wear “a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask when they are in an interior space.”
“Despite the excellent protective value of the coronavirus vaccine in preventing hospitalization and death, there is still a possibility a fully-vaccinated individual could acquire infection in their nose and throat, mild symptoms, or the ability to transmit the coronavirus infection to others,” he said.
The CDC’s example of a “risk” area where mask usage should be used is one with a seven-day average of slightly more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents.
Many found the CDC’s reversal on its previous COVID guidance to be controversial and fearful that it would cause people to lose faith in the vaccines that are currently available as the country is in the midst of stepping up attempts to encourage citizens on the fence to get inoculated.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was highly critical of the decision of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to reinstate the mask mandate Congress, citing the fact that neither the Senate or local DC government have issued any mandates of their own yet.
“If she’s so brilliant, can she tell me where science in the building changes between the House and the Senate?” McCarthy said of Pelosi on Wednesday. “Can she explain to me when the CDC says only vaccinated people need to wear a mask in hotspots? Can she explain to me if DC is a hotspot when it’s clarified by everybody else it’s not?”
“He’s such a moron,” Pelosi shot back at McCarthy, a rare example of a House member directly insulting one of their colleagues in public.