SOUTHERN COLORADO — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new mask guidelines on Tuesday, amid concerns about the spread of the Delta variant.
In a reversal of earlier guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.
CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said the CDC is also recommending that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. That includes students, staff, and visitors.
Walensky said the CDC decided to change its mask recommendations because of new data that shows some people infected with the delta variant even after being vaccinated can spread the virus to others.
According to the CDC's COVID-19 Data Tracker, El Paso and Pueblo County are labeled as substantial hot spots.
As of July 26th, Pueblo County's positivity rate was 2.6%. In June, it was 1.5%.
El Paso County's numbers have also increased to 6.28%, up from 3.20% at this time last month.
Health leaders in both counties say they do not have plans to enforce any kind of mask mandate.
However, with Delta variant cases on the rise, there are growing concerns about the upcoming school year and how teachers and students can best protect themselves.
"Continue social distance, stay away from large crowds, and doing the same things that we have been doing the last 15 months so we can get through this wave of the Delta variant," said Randy Evetts, Pueblo County Public Health Director.
Pueblo County is urging its community members to continue wearing a mask if unvaccinated.
"It is going to continue to spread and to mutate until such point we can reach a high level of vaccination," said Evetts.
These mask updates come more than two months after the CDC announced that vaccinated Americans didn’t need to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors because of the protection from the vaccines. At that time, the delta variant hadn’t taken hold of the nation and cases were steadily dropping.
Scripps' National Content Producer Kyle Hicks contributed to this report