The highly contagious Delta variant has prompted a new surge of Covid-19 around the U.S., leading officials in some areas to reverse what had been a months-long trend of loosening restrictions.
Officials in Clark County, Nevada—which includes Las Vegas—issued new guidance on Friday recommending all people wear masks in crowded, indoor public spaces.
Los Angeles County—the most populated county in the U.S.—will reinstate its mask mandate on Saturday, requiring all residents to wear masks while in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccine status.
The mayor of Orange County, Florida—which includes Orlando and Walt Disney World—issued a “strong recommendation” on Monday for everyone to wear masks in crowded indoor spaces.
Austin, Texas, officially moved back under a stricter set of Covid guidelines on Thursday, which recommends everyone at high risk for Covid complications should wear a mask in public while avoiding large crowds and not traveling unless necessary.
Yolo County in the Sacramento, California, area issued guidance on Wednesday saying that all residents, even the fully vaccinated, should wear masks in indoor public spaces.
The Mississippi State Department of Health released new guidelines on Friday saying all residents 65 and older, along with those suffering from underlying chronic medical conditions, should stay away from large, indoor gatherings.
6.13%. That’s what the U.S. Covid testing positivity rate has risen to, according to the Mayo Clinic. That’s more than triple what the positivity rate was in mid-June, when it was around 1.65%.
The CDC confirmed last week that the highly contagious Delta variant had become the dominant Covid-19 strain in the U.S., leading to renewed calls for the unvaccinated to get their shots. According to the CDC, nearly 68% of adults in the U.S. have had at least one Covid shot, but the vaccination rate varies largely across the country. Mississippi has the lowest rate, with only around 37% of residents having received one shot. That’s an especially concerning figure since state State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweeted this week that Delta makes up “pretty much ALL cases” in Mississippi. Health officials across the U.S. are also concerned about the high levels of vaccine hesitancy among young people, since the Delta variant appears to cause more severe Covid cases in young people than other strains. Vaccines still seem to be highly effective at warding off infection from the Delta variant, but high rates of transmission have sparked concerns there could be more “breakthrough cases”—Covid-19 cases among the fully vaccinated.
World Health Organization officials said last month that fully vaccinated people should wear masks and practice social distancing in public to combat the Delta variant, but the CDC disagrees. CDC guidance says only unvaccinated people need to mask up, while the fully vaccinated can largely return to their prepandemic lifestyles.