Analysis: What If The Government Got It Wrong On Masks Again?

Analysis: What If The Government Got It Wrong On Masks Again?

- in Politics

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(CNN)There are more and more mixed messages on masks, even for those vaccinated against Covid-19.

The World Health Organization is encouraging even the vaccinated to keep the masks on, particularly indoors, as the Delta variant of Covid-19 ricochets around the world.

Compare that with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which a month ago told vaccinated Americans they could largely take the masks off, indoors and out.

    These are different organizations with different missions. The WHO is targeting an international audience, which includes many countries with low vaccination rates.

      The CDC is targeting the US, which has a relatively high vaccination rate, particularly in certain states. It framed the new guidance that the science shows masks aren’t necessary for the vaccinated as a nudge for people to get vaccinated.

        But that doesn’t jibe with the WHO officials’ guidance.

        “There are several safe and effective vaccines that prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. This is one part of managing COVID-19, in addition to the main preventive measures of staying at least 1 metre away from others, covering a cough or sneeze in your elbow, frequently cleaning your hands, wearing a mask and avoiding poorly ventilated rooms or opening a window,” the guidance states.

          That’s been reinforced as Covid ravages Latin America and Africa.

          “People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They have to, still need to protect themselves,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said last week in Geneva.

          If anyone needed a reminder that Covid is not over, this divide on masks is it. Read the CDC mask guidance here.

          About-face on masks

          The Delta variant is also taking off in the US — and is surging in particular in places with low vaccination rates. So the question is whether the CDC will be forced to reassess its guidance.

          Israel has done such a reversal, returning to mandatory indoor masking specifically to control the Delta variant. Some European countries took a more measured approach to ending mask usage, keeping requirements indoors and allowing them to lapse for outdoors.

          Now some local US governments are also doing an about-face on masks.

          In Los Angeles County, local officials took the precaution of reinstating mask guidance for public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

          Calling it a “precautionary measure,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued the voluntary mask guidance Monday, saying it was necessary until health officials can “better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading.”

          In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker this we

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