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Health Authorities Warn Mask Mandates Could Return in Fall


Health Authorities Warn Mask Mandates Could Return in Fall

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While I’ve been fully vaccinated for a few months, I still wear my mask when I go out, just in the interest of community safety. I’m a homebody, so it doesn’t bother me much, but I know friends and family that have been relieved to finally take the things off. Unfortunately, due to several circumstances making each other progressively worse, there is a chance that this mask-less period may only be temporary, even for vaccinated folks.

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 becomes the dominant strain of the virus in the United States, states with lower rates of vaccination are already seeing fresh outbreaks and hospitals refilled to capacity. Several other countries with lessened vaccination infrastructure have already been forced to reimplement curfews and mandates as the Delta variant spreads. According to health officials from both the WHO and the US government, we may be due for the same when the temperature drops in the fall.

“I could foresee that in certain parts of the country, there could be a reintroduction of indoor mask mandates, distancing and occupancy limits” in the coming months, said Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law.

“We are heading for a very dangerous fall, with large swaths of the country still unvaccinated, a surging delta variant and people taking off their masks,” he added.

While vaccination rates are quite high in major metropolitan areas such as the west coast and northeast, several states in the southeastern and midwestern United States still have rates below 30%. It is these states, according to health advisors, that are at highest risk for fresh COVID outbreaks and, by extension, restored mask mandates.

“Given pandemic fatigue, it is going to be harder to get most Americans to follow guidance on mask use and social distancing. When cases and hospitalizations begin to surge again, potentially not until the fall or winter, then it may be easier to persuade some to take measures to be careful,” said Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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