HuffPo spoke to health experts who weighed in on the delta variant, which is more transmissible and has dramatically caused cases and hospitalizations to surge in recent weeks.
Do I Need to Wear a Mask Again If I Am Vaccinated?
If you are indoors in a public setting and you live in an area with high transmission levels (which is currently 60 percent of America), the CDC is recommending you wear a mask as an added layer of protection.
Can Vaccinated Groups Still Gather Indoors without Masks?
This is likely safe depending on the group, say the experts. Dr. Philip Landrigan from Boston College tells HuffPo, “If everybody in a group is vaccinated, you all know each other, and nobody’s been in a high-risk setting in the last couple of weeks, I have no problem being unmasked." He adds that “situational awareness” is important and notes things like the transmission rates in your area and the type of activities you have been engaging in need to be taken into account.
What Considerations Do Parents Need to Make For Unvaccinated Children?
The number of COVID infections in kids and teens has dramatically increased in recent weeks (There were 72,000 new infections recorded in just 1 week). The experts stress kids who are not vaccinated (which is anyone under 12) need to continue to mask up while indoors and when they are interacting with others to do it outside as much as possible.
Should Unvaccinated Kids See Extended Family Like Grandparents without Masks Right Now?
The experts say this can be safe, but parents need to consider the risks. Dr. Adam Ratner, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone Health, says, “Can kids visit with their grandparents? Yeah, sometimes. But I think it depends on the grandparents and it depends on where people are, and it depends on the anticipated downside if you’re wrong about something.” If you are concerned, a safer option would be to see family and friends outside.
What Is My Best Defense Against The Delta Variant?
All health experts stress the single best thing anyone who is eligible can do is to get vaccinated. “People who are vaccinated remain highly protected against severe disease and death due to COVID,” Dr. Ratner says. “That’s super important, and it’s the main reason for people to get vaccinated. The people who we are seeing with severe disease and who are dying with the delta variant are overwhelmingly unvaccinated.”
In the meantime, some general prevention steps we can all take to limit the risk of infection -- which will seem very familiar -- but still remain effective include:
- Taking part in outdoor activities
- Avoiding crowds
- Wearing a mask when indoors with the public, especially if you live in an area with high transmission
Find out where to get your free COVID-19 vaccine, here or search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you in the U.S.