PRINCETON, NJ / SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 23 (Reuters) – A wave of COVID-19 triggered in parts of the United States by the highly contagious Delta variant and vaccine reluctance has led to new mask warrants and to deep confusion among some people about which direction to take.
In Los Angeles County, leaders have reinstated an indoor mask mandate, even for fully vaccinated people. Officials in Houston and New Orleans also raised coronavirus alert levels this week and told people to mask themselves.
In Florida, however, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that children would not be required to wear masks to school this fall, arguing that “we need our children to breathe.” Hours later, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, “If I was a parent in Florida, that would be of great concern to me. “
“Everyone is confused as to what they should do,” said Daniel Blacksheare, a 20-year-old from Santa Monica, Calif., Who said he was infected twice last year. “I don’t understand why we suddenly have to wear a mask again. “
The Los Angeles County Sheriff said his department would not enforce the measure.
Conflicting advice from city, county, state and federal government officials comes as hospital officials in hardest-hit states with lower vaccination rates sound the alarm bells over their overloading. systems.
The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the United States is up 53% from the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday. The Delta variant accounts for over 80% of new cases across the country.
A large part of the orientations follow the same political lines as at the start of the pandemic. Leaders of heavily Republican states generally avoid masks and Democrats insist on them.
Schools are a particular point of tension nationwide. Children under 12 are still not eligible for coronavirus vaccines, and many parents see masks as the best remaining defense.
Yet while some areas return to class in just a few weeks, there are big divisions over whether children should wear masks in schools.
The American Academy of Pediatrics this week released updated recommendations for schools that included mask wear for all people over 2 years of age, regardless of their immunization status. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that unvaccinated children should wear masks in schools.
But the CDC said Thursday it was not changing its guidelines on masks for schools, including that masks are only required for people over 2 who have not been vaccinated. In May, the CDC relaxed its guidelines so that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most public spaces.
In Princeton, New Jersey, Ximena Skovron said she found the dust on the masks and the advice was genuinely confusing.
“I am vaccinated and the rules seem to be changing,” she said. “But it’s also inconsistent. You have two grocery stores in town: one requires masks, the other doesn’t. “
Skovron said she doesn’t think states should reimpose mask warrants.
“Vaccines are readily available. The ability to protect yourself is there, ”she said. “If you refuse, you should take the risk instead of imposing it on the rest of society. “
Her 6-year-old daughter will be entering first grade this fall, and Skovron said she hoped the school wouldn’t need masks, citing the extremely low rate of severe incidence of COVID-19 in young children.
“It seems so overkill for children to wear masks,” she said.
But Melissa Riccobono, 44, of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, has said she is pro-Mask and believes there should be terms when and where needed.
“If you choose not to vaccinate, it’s your choice, and that’s fine with me – but it’s not your choice whether or not to wear a mask,” she said.
Reporting by Tim Reid in Santa Monica, California, and Joseph Ax in Princeton, New Jersey; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas, and Carl O’Donnell in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Grant McCool
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