The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest guidelines on masks for vaccinated Americans are causing confusion and backlash, with some experts warning they could turn the focus from getting everyone vaccinated.
The CDC recommends that Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear masks indoors in public places in areas of the country where there are high transmission rates. This recommendation comes amidst the spread of the delta variant.
Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, told CNBC that those who are vaccinated should be aware that they could still spread COVID-19 to the more vulnerable, like those with weak immune systems and the elderly, The Hill reported.
"Whether or not that should then translate into general guidance for the entire population that if you're vaccinated you should wear a mask, I don't think that that's the case," said Gottlieb. "I don't think that we're going to get enough bang for our buck by telling vaccinated people they have to wear masks at all times, to make it worth our while."
Aaron Carroll, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said, "I feel like I'm seeing tons of vaccinated people freak out. Truly the vast, vast, vast majority of risk is for those that are unvaccinated."
Carroll added that it'd be better for the CDC to focus its "massive megaphone" on promoting the vaccine rather than masking, according to The Hill.
GOP lawmakers also criticized the CDC's new guidelines.
"President Biden's CDC can't make up its mind," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted. "One mask. Two masks. No masks. Back to one mask."
"CDC is putting Washington back into the middle of your lives," Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) wrote.
Regarding the new guidelines, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, "Not only are people tired, they're frustrated. This was not a decision that was taken lightly."
Washington, D.C., with its eight new cases per day per 100,000 people, is reimposing an indoor mask mandate, while Springfield, Mo., with 77 new cases per day per 100,000 people, isn't, The Hill reported.
Springfield Mayor Ken McClure told the Springfield News Leader, "To me mandated masking had its role and its place, and it was to buy us enough time to get vaccinations available to the population. We are there. The solution's here. People need to step up and take it."
The president of the American Medical Association, Gerald Harmon, agrees with the CDC's new guidelines.
"With cases of COVID-19 continuing to increase in the United States and a significant number of people who remain unvaccinated, the CDC's updated mask guidance is needed to help curb the spread of COVID-19 — particularly the Delta variant, which we know is much more contagious," he said.