The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines Tuesday, recommending that even those who have been vaccinated should resume wearing face masks in public spaces and indoors in areas of the country where COVID-19, and the even more contagious Delta variant, are spreading rapidly.

The recommendations include two-thirds of the country.

In North Carolina, about 60 percent of adults have had at least one dose of the vaccine. However, cases and hospitalizations continue to see an uptick, according to the latest update from North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services. As of Tuesday, about 10 percent of people tested were positive for COVID-19, the highest its been since February. 

Gavin Yamey, a global health expert at Duke University, agreed with the CDC’s new guidance.

“The U.S. is now experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19, driven by the Delta variant, which is estimated to be twice as transmissible as the original strain of SARS-CoV-2,” Yamey said in a press statement. “Communities with low rates of vaccination are seeing major surges in cases and, in these places, wearing masks in indoor public spaces can help to prevent the spread of the virus.”

The state’s mask mandate and restrictions on gatherings are set to expire Friday. Governor Roy Cooper is yet to announce if he plans to change course and reintroduce restrictions in light of the increase of cases. Face mask requirements are also planned to be eased in public schools when they return in the fall. 

Yamey thinks North Carolina ought to take a note from communities like Los Angeles, which reinstated its indoor mask mandate to stop a surge in cases. 

“There are a huge number of vulnerable people, including children under 12 who can’t yet get vaccinated and those who are immunocompromised, and the new CDC guidance will help to protect them,” Yamey said. 

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