COVID-19 live updates: CDC reverses guidance on masks for vaccinated people

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The United States is facing a COVID-19 summer surge as the delta variant spreads.

More than 611,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

MORE: CDC backtracks on masks guidance for vaccinated people, schools

MORE: Statistics show the stark risks of not getting vaccinated against COVID-19

Just 57.6% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID-19 has infected more than 195 million people worldwide and killed over 4.1 million.


Latest Developments


July 27, 2021

House of Representatives reimposes mask mandate following new CDC guidance

The Office of the Attending Physician is now requiring all members and staff to wear “medical-grade” masks throughout the House of Representatives unless members are speaking in the hall of the House or individuals are alone.

Members and staff will once again be prohibited from stepping on the floor to vote without a mask, or risk incurring fines.

The new guidance follows the CDC’s latest recommendations and will not be in effect on the Senate side.

-ABC News' Ben Siegel


July 27, 2021

Biden to announce vaccine mandate for federal workers


President Joe Biden is expected to announce a vaccine mandate for the nation’s 2.1 million federal employees on Thursday, ABC News has learned.

Details around the policy are still being reviewed by the White House, however, sources familiar with the discussion told ABC News that employees who aren't vaccinated will abide by "stringent COVID-19 protocols like mandatory mask wearing – even in communities not with high or substantial spread - and regular testing."

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Va., July 27, 2021. (Susan Walsh/AP)
PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Va., July 27, 2021. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Once enacted, this will be the largest vaccine mandate by a single employer of this pandemic.

New York City and the state of California announced Monday similar rules for their public employees.

White House sources also told ABC News that following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new recommendations on indoor mask use, the president will wear a mask when he travels to areas where the transmission rates are high and he needs to be indoors.
-ABC News' Cecilia Vega and Sarah Kolinovsky


July 27, 2021

CDC issues alert, urging doctors to step up vaccines

Just hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its policy on indoor mask use for vaccinated Americans, the agency sent out an alert to doctors, pressing them to step up vaccines.

The Health Alert Network Health Advisory reiterated that vaccine coverage needed to go up "to prevent surges in new infections that could increase COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality, overwhelm healthcare capacity, and widen existing COVID-19-related health disparities."

As of Tuesday, 66.6% of Americans above the age of 12 have received one vaccine dose, however the rates are lower in several southern states including Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Those states, the alert noted, have seen a major jump in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

"Unvaccinated persons account for the majority of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths," the CDC said in its alert.

-ABC News' Anne Flaherty


July 27, 2021

Cape Cod outbreak grows to 765

The COVID-19 outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has now grown to at least 765 people, officials said Tuesday.

The number of cases from the popular tourist destination have been increasing since the Fourth of July weekend.

Of these cases, 469 individuals are Massachusetts residents, 199 of whom reside in Provincetown, Town Manager Alex Morse wrote in a Facebook post.

The remaining individuals who tested positive reside in other states, or jurisdictions, he said.

There have been no reported deaths linked to the cluster so far, however, three people linked to it have been hospitalized. One of the patients was vaccinated, according to town officials.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos


July 27, 2021

CDC reverses guidance on masks for vaccinated people


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday reversed its mask guidance for vaccinated people due to the delta variant surge.

PHOTO: People wear face coverings as they gather in Union Station on July 19, 2021,  in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: People wear face coverings as they gather in Union Station on July 19, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images, FILE)

Vaccinated Americans should now wear masks inside if they’re in places with substantial or high transmission, the CDC said.

PHOTO: A restaurant worker holds his face mask in Biloxi, Miss., March 5, 2021. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: A restaurant worker holds his face mask in Biloxi, Miss., March 5, 2021. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP, FILE)

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said data show that on "rare occasions, some vaccinated people with the delta variant … may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations."

Walensky added, "This moment -- and most importantly -- the associated illness, suffering and death, could have been avoided with higher vaccination coverage in this country."

PHOTO: People wear masks as they pass through a pedestrian subway as cases of the infectious coronavirus Delta variant continue to rise in New York, July 26, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
PHOTO: People wear masks as they pass through a pedestrian subway as cases of the infectious coronavirus Delta variant continue to rise in New York, July 26, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

In May, the CDC said vaccinated Americans could stop wearing masks indoors.

The CDC also said Tuesday that masks should be worn in schools by all students, teachers, staff and visitors, even for those who are vaccinated. The CDC said students should return to full-time in-person learning this year with prevention strategies in place.

President Joe Biden in a statement called the CDC's new rules "another step on our journey to defeating this virus."

"While we have seen an increase in vaccinations in recent days, we still need to do better," he added.

-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty and Eric Strauss


July 27, 2021

NYC hospital mandating vaccines for staff


New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery is requiring its staff be vaccinated as of Sept. 15.

Only staff with a medical or religious reason will be exempt, the hospital said Tuesday.


July 27, 2021

Cal State requiring vaccinations

California State University, the nation’s largest university system that’s home to nearly 500,000 students, will require vaccinations for in-person students, staff and faculty.

PHOTO: A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a drive-through clinic at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in Northridge, Calif., May 13, 2021. (Jill Connelly/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a drive-through clinic at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in Northridge, Calif., May 13, 2021. (Jill Connelly/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)



"The current surge in COVID cases due to the spread of the highly infectious delta variant is an alarming new factor that we must consider as we look to maintain the health and well-being of students, employees and visitors to our campuses this fall," CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro said in a statement Tuesday.


July 27, 2021

Louisiana reports 2nd highest daily case count since January


Louisiana is in a "continued surge," logging 6,797 new daily cases on Tuesday, the second highest single-day case count since Jan. 6, the state’s Department of Health said.

The department said 99.56% of the cases are linked to community spread, not congregate settings like nursing homes.

New Orleans city officials said Monday that hospital capacity in the region and the state are being stretched to the limits due to a large uptick in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. New Orleans officials said 97% of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the state are unvaccinated.


July 26, 2021

Delta variant is 'a whole new virus,' St. Louis health official

St. Louis' top health official talked with ABC News Monday about Missouri's rising coronavirus cases and gave a stark warning to the rest of the country.

“The delta variant is a whole new virus," Dr. Sam Page, the county executive for St. Louis County, Missouri, told ABC News.

Since June, Missouri’s daily case average has surged by 500%, with the state now reporting its highest number of new infections since mid-January. Hospital admissions have more than doubled in recent weeks. They are up by 125% in the last month, according to Page.

At the same time, vaccinations have seen a slight increase the county, Page said. However, he reiterated that it will be at least another month before the county sees full effect of the vaccines in those patients.

PHOTO: Staff Sergeant Herbert Lins of the Missouri Army National Guard administers the Covid-19 vaccine to a resident during a vaccination event, Feb. 11, 2021, at the Jeff Vander Lou Senior living facility in St Louis. (Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Staff Sergeant Herbert Lins of the Missouri Army National Guard administers the Covid-19 vaccine to a resident during a vaccination event, Feb. 11, 2021, at the Jeff Vander Lou Senior living facility in St Louis. (Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

“We just wish that we could get people vaccinated sooner because the illness has an unfortunate loss of life associated with it. And that's just a terrible thing to watch,” Page said.

Page said there was no “silver bullet” that will help increase vaccination rates across the state, or drive down cases immediately, but said that officials must work together fast.

“It's going to be multifactorial, a lot of education, a lot of time, a lot of comforting,” he said.

-ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett and Arielle Mitropoulos


July 26, 2021

US moved into ‘high’ community transmission category per CDC


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now categorizing the U.S. as having "high" community transmission, with nearly 62% of counties in the nation reporting high (43.79%) or substantial (18.17%) transmission.

PHOTO: An EMS technician shows a COVID-19 positive test strip, July 26, 2021, in Miami.  (Marta Lavandier/AP)
PHOTO: An EMS technician shows a COVID-19 positive test strip, July 26, 2021, in Miami. (Marta Lavandier/AP)

New York County, which includes Manhattan, is among those now reporting substantial community transmission.

One month ago, only 8% of counties were reporting high transmission.

Louisiana, Florida, and Arkansas have the country's highest case rate with over 300 new cases per 100,000 residents.

PHOTO: People walk down Bourbon Street as Louisiana rises to worst COVID-19 outbreak in U.S. amid Delta variant, in New Orleans, July 23, 2021. (Kathleen Flynn/Reuters)
PHOTO: People walk down Bourbon Street as Louisiana rises to worst COVID-19 outbreak in U.S. amid Delta variant, in New Orleans, July 23, 2021. (Kathleen Flynn/Reuters)

Missouri follows closely behind with 200 new cases per 100,000 residents.

Hospitalization numbers are also rising. More than 27,300 COVID-10 patients are in hospitals across the country -- a 36.8% jump in the last week.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

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