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Updated CDC guidance: Where are masks indoors recommended again?

In more than 2,000 counties where COVID cases are surging, the CDC now says even vaccinated people should return to wearing masks indoors.

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday it is reversing course on some of its masking guidelines amid a surge of COVID-19 cases related to the delta variant. 

The agency said even vaccinated people should return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

Citing new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Where does the CDC recommend everyone wear masks indoors?

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said even vaccinated people should return to wearing masks indoors in areas with substantial or high amounts of community transmission of COVID-19. 

Substantial transmission means there's been 50-100 cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period and high transmission means an area has seen more than 100 cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period, Walensky explained.

The agency's online data tracker features a color-coded interactive map that shows different levels of community transmission. In the color-coded map, orange reflects substantial community transmission and red indicates high transmission. 

More than 2,000 U.S. counties would fall under CDC's new recommendations, the agency's data shows as of Tuesday afternoon

LINK: See CDC's county-by-county COVID transmission tracker

The new guidance follows recent decisions in Los Angeles and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that have been especially bad in the South. The country is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Credit: CDC
This image from July 27 shows CDC's COVID-19 community transmission tracker, with orange indicating counties with substantial transmission and red indicating high transmission.