Virginia reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in Wednesday’s daily report from the Commonwealth’s daily report, the first time the 24-hour count has topped the that number in a long, long time.
The increase comes as the Centers for Disease Control reports those of us who are vaccinated can spread the coronavirus and should resume wearing masks indoors, especially in places, like Virginia, where the infections numbers are rising.
“It is not a welcome piece of news that masking is going to be a part of people’s lives who have already been vaccinated,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky acknowledged in a statement. “This new guidance weighs heavily on me.”
Floyd County has reported at least one new case a day this week, and the total is about to hit 900.
The agency advised that people who live in high-transmission communities wear masks in indoor public spaces, even if they’ve been vaccinated. It also recommended that vaccinated people with vulnerable household members, including young children and those who are immunocompromised, wear masks indoors in public spaces.
The agency also called for universal masking for teachers, staff members and students in schools, regardless of their vaccination status. The CDC continues to recommend that students return to in-person learning in the fall.
The changed guidance comes as confirmed coronavirus infections nationwide have quadrupled in July, from about 13,000 cases per day on average at the start of the month to more than 56,000 now, according to Washington Post tracking. Faced with a resurgent virus thanks to the highly transmissible delta variant, a growing number of public and private employers have also imposed vaccine mandates in recent days. President Biden said Tuesday that requiring the federal workforce to get vaccinated was “under consideration right now.”
Walensky described the delta variant as, in effect, a different virus, capable of generating outbreaks of infection even among people who are vaccinated. “The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it,” she said.
Anthony Fauci, chief medical examiner to President Biden, says “the situation has clearly changed.”
“Vaccinated people are transmitting it, and the extent is unclear, but there’s no doubt they’re transmitting it,” Fauci tells the media now. “People who are vaccinated, even when they’re asymptomatic, can transmit the virus, which is the scientific foundation of why this recommendation is being made.”
Many medical experts welcome the new restrictions.
“Nobody wants to go backward, but you have to deal with the facts on the ground, and the facts on the ground are that it’s a pretty scary time, and there are a lot of vulnerable people,” Robert Wachter, chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, told the Post. “I think the biggest thing we got wrong was not anticipating that 30 percent of the country would choose not to be vaccinated.”
Other experts say more states and localities must step up with new restrictions and mask restrictions.
“People don’t realize how bad delta is,” James Lawler, an infectious-disease doctor at the University of Nebraska, said in an email. “We are looking at transmission dynamics at least as bad as in the fall — with no mitigation measures in place in most states with low [vaccination] rates.”