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There’s a strong case for fully vaccinated people to wear masks again

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said you’re probably safe from variants — but masks will keep others protected.

E-scooter riders wear masks in downtown Salt Lake City.
E-scooter riders wear masks as they wait to cross Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, April 9, 2021. Experts suggest fully vaccinated people may want to wear face masks again, especially if there’s a surge in cases in your area.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Is it time to mask up again? Experts suggest fully vaccinated people may want to wear face masks again, especially if there’s a surge in cases in your area.

Should you wear a mask again?

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently told NBC News that the COVID-19 vaccine offers a high amount of protection.

  • “If you’re vaccinated, you have a very high degree of protection from all of the variants that we are aware of circulating in the United States,” she said.

However, Walensky told NBC News people may want to mask up in areas where there’s a low vaccination rate, and where there’s an uptick in cases.

  • “If you’re in a community that has a high amount of disease and less than a third of your population is vaccinated, one should consider whether the policy should be to mask,” Walensky said.
  • She said wearing a mask is “more about protecting the two-thirds of the community that are not vaccinated.”

New variants could rise

Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, recently told CNN that areas with low vaccination rates and rising COVID-19 case numbers could become “breeding grounds” for COVID-19 variants, too.

  • “We’re already starting to see places with low vaccination rates starting to have relatively big spikes from the delta variant. We’ve seen this in Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming ... those are the places where we’re going to see more hospitalizations and deaths as well, unfortunately,” he said.
  • “And any time you have large outbreaks, it does become a breeding ground for potentially more variants.”

Experts have said that new COVID-19 variants will develop in these areas where there are low vaccination rates, as I wrote for the Deseret News. These variants could, in theory, eventually evade the vaccines.