DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Thursday that wearing face coverings indoors will be mandatory in the city regardless of vaccination status beginning Saturday, July 31.
Bowser’s announcement followed the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Tuesday statement, recommending that people keep wearing face coverings indoors in public regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated in areas “of substantial or high transmission.”
On Wednesday, Bowser had said there was no immediate update to the city’s mask mandate despite the CDC’s recommendation. “Dr. Nesbitt and her team continue to review where we are and if we need to do anything differently … we’ll communicate that,” she had said at a press conference.
The CDC’s change in policy aims at maximizing protection against the Delta variant of the coronavirus and curbing its spread among the public.
The District is currently one of the areas with “substantial transmission,” according to CDC data.
City officials in Alexandria, which is in the same category, are also urging residents to wear face masks in public indoor settings, based on the CDC’s new guidelines.
“Substantial transmission” is the term used to describe the spread in regions with over 50 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people within the past seven days.
Here is what you should keep doing even if you have been fully vaccinated against the infectious disease, according to the CDC’s new guidelines:
- You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.
- If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others.
- Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at US transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus).
- Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested three days before travel by air into the United States (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months) and should still get tested three-five days after their trip.
- You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others. If your test is positive, isolate at home for 10 days.
- People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
“Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. When these infections occur among vaccinated people, they tend to be mild,” the CDC notes on its website.
DC Health announced last week that four individuals who are fully vaccinated have died of COVID-19 and the city has seen a 95 percent decline in COVID-related deaths since January 2021.