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CDC director stands firm on mask guidance, calls it an ‘individual choice’ for those vaccinated to wear one

The health agency is facing pressure to recommend masks for all individuals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sticking with its guidance for now that only unvaccinated people need to wear masks to be safe, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Thursday.

Asked about The Washington Post report that administration officials are rethinking its messaging on masks, Walensky said “we are always looking at the data as the data come in.”

But she said the CDC guidance hasn’t changed and suggested that — for now — there’s no need.

“Fully vaccinated people are protected from severe illness, and we’ve always said that communities and individuals to make the decisions that are right for them based on what’s going on in their local areas,” she said.

She later added: “In areas that have high and low amounts of vaccination … if you’re unvaccinated, you should absolutely be wearing a mask. If you’re vaccinated, you have exceptional levels of protection from that vaccine, and you may choose to add an extra layer of protection by putting on your mask and that’s a very individual choice.”

Jeff Zients, the White House coordinator on COVID-19, said any public health guidance is up to the CDC.

“We will follow the science,” he said.

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