World House brings back mask mandate, threat of fines after CDC guidance changes
As clock strikes midnight, Los Angeles reinstates masks - sort of
In a West Hollywood nightclub, people flirted, danced, and got close -- all mostly unmasked -- despite the fact that on Sunday at midnight, Los Angeles became the first US city to order a return to masks indoors. - 'Not my problem' - For Los Angeles authorities, who announced the return to mandatory mask wearing in the middle of the week, there's a delicate balance to strike -- the city has only really reopened in the last few weeks, and no-one wants to spoil the party. But thanks to the Delta variant, Covid-19 cases are the highest they've been since March, and the United States has not yet introduced any form of vaccine passport.
Attending Physician Brian Monahan said late Tuesday that the House of Representatives is reinstating its mask mandate – and therefore the threat of fines to members who don't comply – following updated guidance from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the delta variant of the .
The CDC said Tuesday that it is recommending people who areand in areas with high COVID-19 spread wear masks indoors. The announcement was foreshadowed for days by top officials and demanded for weeks by some activists. The new recommendation is likely to prompt a raft of new mask mandates around the country and has already done so in the U.S. Capitol.
America’s Mask Dilemma
Depending on where you live and your risk tolerance, vaccinated people are justified in either masking or unmasking indoors.For some Americans, this is no longer a choice. Buffeted by rising COVID-19 case counts resulting from the hyper-transmissible Delta variant, Los Angeles County re-implemented an indoor mask mandate a few days ago. Unlike mask guidelines elsewhere, the new rule applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Other localities might soon follow.
"For the Congress, representing a collection of individuals traveling weekly from various risk areas (both high and low rates of disease transmission), all individuals should wear a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask (for example an ear loop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space," Monahan said in a letter sent to congressional staffers.
This, the attending physician added, includes the House chamber, committee meetings and all House office buildings. The only explicit exceptions Monahan mentioned were for those who are actively speaking, seeking recognition from a chair at a committee hearing or those who are alone in a room.
Missouri AG plans to sue St. Louis over reinstatement of mask mandate
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he plans to file a lawsuit against St. Louis and St. Louis County for reinstating a mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people over the age of 5. Local leaders announced the new requirements on Friday citing the rising number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The requirements were to take effect on Monday in indoor public places and on public transportation. Masks are also "strongly encouraged" for groups when outdoors. Schmitt, a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, said he's heading to court to stop the new mask requirements. ST.
"To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED," Monahan said. "Failure to wear a mask in the Hall of the House is subject to fines imposed for violation as contained in the previous House rule."
Monahan explained the reasoning behind the decision in his letter, tracking closely with reasoning used by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in his announcement Tuesday that the CDC would again recommend masks for unvaccinated people.
"In the past two weeks, USA coronavirus cases have significantly increased, now approaching 100,000 cases per day. The Delta variant virus has been detected in Washington, DC and in the Capitol buildings," Monahan said. "It represents a dire health risk to unvaccinated individuals and is not without some risk to the vaccinated individuals or their unvaccinated household contacts."
These Cities Are Going Back to Masks as Delta Variant Cases Rise
In COVID-19 hot spots, such as Arkansas and Missouri, mask mandates are being discussed but have not yet been imposed. According to KTVI in Missouri, St. Louis County executives recently said a new mask order was possible."The vaccine is available, but unfortunately the vaccination rate in our community has not been high enough to prevent spread of the Delta variant," Dr. Clay Dunagan, acting head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said according to KTVI. "We now need to return to masking to combat this new wave of infections.
He added: "Despite the excellent protective value of the coronavirus vaccine in preventing hospitalization and death, there is still a possibility a fully-vaccinated individual could acquire infection in their nose and throat, mild symptoms, or the ability to transmit the coronavirus infection to others."
Monahan further warned about the possibility of "long COVID" and cited the fact that some local governments have either mandated masks or recommended them already in light of the delta variant.
The CDC's decision Tuesday was highly controversial, with many alleging that it will undermine faith in vaccines – which prevent nearly all severe infection, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 – just as the U.S. is trying to increase vaccination rates among hesitant populations.
Others worried that local and state governments would use the new recommendation from the CDC as a reason to implement new mandates, requiring vaccinated people to wear masks indoors even if they are healthy, confident that their vaccines work and in a situation where they are comfortable not masking.
But Walensky and the White House defended the new guidance as grounded in science and aimed at protecting Americans.
"Information on the delta variant from several states and other countries indicate that in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others," Walensky told reporters Tuesday. "This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations."
Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
Defense Department Now Requires Masks Indoors, Regardless of Vaccination Status .
The Army and Navy are expected to make vaccinations mandatory for all service members, but some people are worried it'll cause people to leave the military. By the end of June, about 70 percent of the Army's personnel had already voluntarily received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccines, according to Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency.The "vast majority of transmission" these days is occurring through unvaccinated people, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.