The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidelines about face masks in the wake of the omicron variant.
Right now, the omicron variant has become the most dominant form of the coronavirus in the United States — a major development in the pandemic. The CDC has now advised people to take extra precautions against the variant.
- “The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown,” the CDC said. “CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.”
So does that mean masks are recommended? Yes. The CDC said anyone — regardless of their vaccine status — should be wearing a mask in public indoor settings.
- “CDC continues to recommend wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status,” the CDC said.
Face masks have been considered an easy way to slow the spread of the coronavirus over the last year. But there have been questions if the omicron variant can evade masks since it evades vaccines, boosters and more.
Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of health policy and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said face masks might not be as effective at stopping the omicron variant as they would against other variants.
- “Omicron produces more virus, even than delta,” Schaffner told Health. “So, the masks’ capacity to interrupt or reduce transmission back and forth is likewise reduced.”
Similarly, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told ABC News that the pandemic will end soon enough and we will put down the face masks. But they’re still important now.
- “Masks are for now, they’re not forever,” Walensky told ABC News. “We have to find a way to be done with them.”