U.S. Shifts Tactics Against Virus in Days With Mask Guidance
What a difference a single week can make. In just a matter of days, state and local authorities imposed warrants to wear masks, companies pushed back workers back to their offices, and the federal government and the military pressured their employees to go. get vaccinated.
It started on Tuesday when federal health officials turned around and recommended that even people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus again wear masks in indoor public spaces in parts of the country where the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus has increases. They also said everyone in public schools should wear a mask, sparking heated debates across the country.
Some state and local governments, schools and businesses have rushed to follow the new guidelines, while others have defiantly said they will not. On Friday in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order giving parents the final say on their children’s wearing masks to school.
Government documents released to the media on Friday painted a grim picture of the Delta variant as being more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness, and more capable of piercing vaccines than other known versions of the virus. A document says officials must recognize that “the war has changed.”
“This virus is in the driver’s seat and we are chasing it,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, a University of Washington epidemiologist and former CDC scientist. “The only way to stay ahead of the game is to get the vaccine and wear a mask. If we don’t, we will always catch up. “
It was a sharp turnaround in the national mood in early July, when President Biden promised Americans that a more normal life would resume in time for the Independence Day holidays, describing the holidays as the start of a “summer of freedom”. Instead, in an episode in Provincetown, Mass., An outbreak that began after the city’s July 4 festivities reached more than 880 cases – nearly three-quarters of those among those fully vaccinated.
In recent days, Atlanta and St. Louis have reissued mask mandates that apply to teens and adults. An indoor mask warrant will be re-imposed in Washington, DC on Saturday. Nevada’s new mask mandate went into effect Friday for counties with high or high transmission, including Las Vegas. The Kansas City tenure will resume Monday.
New York and Los Angeles, the country’s two largest public school systems, had previously announced that they would maintain universal masking policies. This week, the Los Angeles Unified School District took extra precautions and announced that weekly coronavirus testing would be required for in-person instruction.
Vaccines are effective against the worst consequences of infection, even with the variant, reducing the risk of death. But the lagging vaccination effort has lagged behind the ever-evolving virus. Less than half of adults are fully immunized.
This week, vaccination mandates have gained momentum. Mr Biden announced Thursday that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be required to undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel. The Pentagon announced a similar vaccine policy hours later. New York, California, Puerto Rico and others have followed suit.
Employers waited months to make decisions on immunization mandates, worried about legal and political pushbacks. But this week marked the start of a steady stream of announcements from Walmart, The Walt Disney Company, Google, Facebook, Uber and others introducing new requirements that certain employees must be vaccinated. And the New York Times has indefinitely delayed his return to power, which was slated for September.
“Once you get a little bit of momentum, you get kind of a tidal wave,” said Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, who was a member of Mr. Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board during the transition from presidential administrations.
Over the past week, more than 77,200 coronavirus cases, on average, have been reported each day, up 150% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database. Newly reported deaths rose 10%, to an average of 301 a day over the past week. Hospitalizations are up, to an average of about 39,400 per day, a 74% increase from two weeks ago.
Experts predicted that cases would peak around mid-August and that there would be further flare-ups linked to the return from schools and the holiday season this winter.
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