Washington, D.C., has seen a four-fold increase in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of July, leading health officials to reconsider a possible citywide mask mandate as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"DC Health is reviewing the updated CDC guidance related to mask wearing. Similar to trends across the nation, the District of Columbia has experienced a four-fold increase in its daily case rate since the beginning of July. DC’s transmission increase is driven primarily by unvaccinated individuals," D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said in a statement on Tuesday.
At the beginning of July, the District was reporting less than 10 cases a day, but the number of new cases has since risen above 60 cases as of Monday. The latest surge in cases has been attributed to the more infectious delta variant and has largely affected unvaccinated individuals.
The CDC on Tuesday announced new guidance, once again recommending that fully vaccinated people wear masks when they are in a "public, indoor setting," citing data that suggests vaccinated people are capable of spreading the delta variant, even though they are less likely to experience severe symptoms if they contract it.
"We know that COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community. COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective in preventing COVID-19 disease, hospitalizations, and death. We continue to learn about new variants, and these insights may require us to revisit other protective measures," Nesbitt said.
Nesbitt encouraged people to wear masks in order to protect those who are still not eligible to get vaccinated, namely young children, and to also get vaccinated. Around 54 percent of D.C. residents are fully vaccinated according to government data, and around 63 percent have received at least one dose.