With the More Contagious Delta Variant, Some Officials Are Issuing New Mask Guidance

The more dangerous and more transmissible Delta variant has spread to almost every state in the United States, fueling health experts’ concerns about COVID-19 spikes.

The variant is expected to become the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

In Los Angeles County, the pace of Delta’s spread has prompted officials to reinstate mask guidance for public indoor spaces—regardless of vaccination status.

The new, voluntary mask guidance is necessary until health officials can “better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading,” the county’s department of public health said.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has shown to be 88 percent effective against symptomatic infections caused by the Delta variant—two weeks after the second dose. Those who are only partially vaccinated have significantly less protection.

And Moderna’s vaccine was found in lab experiments to work against new variants such as the Delta strain, the company said Tuesday. Researchers used serum samples from eight participants taken a week after they received their second dose of vaccine.

But the spread of the virus is outpacing vaccinations, the World Health Organization said. And the longer the virus spreads among unvaccinated people, the more opportunities it has to mutate into more troubling variants.

Now the Gamma variant has been shown to be more resistant to vaccines and antibody treatments. Last week, the WHO said even those who are fully vaccinated should wear masks in places with high rates of Covid-19 spread.

Many states have not reinstated mask mandates for the upcoming school year, including New Jersey—where masks will not be required “unless the district decides to make it protocol,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

But that could change if the situation gets worse, he said.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.