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CDC director weighs in on wearing masks as delta variant spreads in some areas

WASHINGTON — Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the CDC is leaving it up to local officials to set guidelines for mask-wearing as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus surges in areas with low vaccination rates.

Walensky said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show that “we’ve always said that local policymakers need to make policies for their local environment,” but added that CDC guidelines broadly indicate those who are vaccinated don’t need to wear masks.

Charlottesville City Council voted to rescinded local restrictions on April 19, while the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted to rescind all local restrictions on May 19.

At the time, the county attorney told the board that if things changed, the board could consider a 60-day emergency ordinance, which would not require a public hearing. If supervisors then wanted to then extend it, they would need to have a public hearing.

Charlottesville and Albemarle currently are following state guidelines, which line up with CDC recommendations.

Health officials in Los Angeles County are recommending people wear masks indoors in public places regardless of their vaccination status.

Separately, the World Health Organization has reiterated its longstanding recommendation that everyone wear masks to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.

Walensky told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday the “context in which the WHO is making recommendations is very different than us here in the United States,” as less than 15% of the world is vaccinated.

As for the recommendation by officials in Los Angeles County, Walensky said “we are still seeing an uptick in cases in areas of low vaccination and in that situation, we are suggesting that policies be made at the local level.”


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