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Monday, October 18, 2021

CDC’s Masking Recommendations Return

Response to Slow the Recent COVID-19 Surge

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By Darryl Sellers

As many Americans bask in hot temperatures that are consistently sweeping across the United States this summer, the COVID-19 front is creating its own rampant heat wave. The number of COVID-19 cases is rapidly on the rise after a promising start to summer when COVID cases and deaths were plummeting across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is thus responding with a recommendation that Americans wear masks indoors in certain situations in hopes of slowing the recent COVID-19 summer surge.

The CDC is taking this action at a time when the virus has recently trended upward over the last two weeks in the United States. Recent reports reveal some troubling trends. COVID hospitalizations are climbing in all 50 states. COVID-19 cases have sharply increased by 145 percent. The highly transmissible, contagious Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of new COVID cases.

Another major factor that’s driving up the number of new COVID cases is the low vaccination rates in states where fewer than 50 percent of residents have had at least one shot of a vaccine. Those states include Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, and more.

Keeping in mind the summer surge of the virus, Dr. Michele Benoit-Wilson of WakeMed Health in Raleigh, North Carolina, said the CDC’s masking recommendation is critically important, in her state especially where children go to school year-round.

“We know that a lot of schools have been challenged with whether or not they’re able to get verification of vaccination,” Dr. Benoit-Wilson said. “Getting that verification and putting that burden on teachers and administration can be challenging. I think the importance of the CDC reversing their recommendation, suggesting and highly recommending that schools open up and having universal masking, is critically important,” she added.

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While universal masking works, Dr. Benoit Wilson said it is also important to get more of our children vaccinated to provide an extra level of protection for their health inside and outside the classroom.

“The leading way to end this epidemic is vaccination. And the reality is that many parents can’t get their children vaccinated simply because they are too young,” she said. “So if we want to prioritize the health of children, if we want to prioritize the health of families, it’s critically important for us as a community, as a nation, to embrace whatever we know has been proven scientifically to reduce the infection rate. That, number one, is vaccinating, and number two is masking. And the reality is that some people can’t get vaccinated. So it’s important for the people around them to be vaccinated and for all of us to wear our masks indoors.”

Dr. Benoit-Wilson said North Carolina has seen a significant increase in the COVID-19 infection rate as well as a surge in the predominant Delta variant that is 60 percent more transmissible. Because of the rapid rise of the Delta variant, she said it’s important for all Black Americans to keep their guard up and protect the lives of their children as well as their communities.

“If we all are in agreement that keeping our children in school is critically important both to their educational and mental health, I think it then follws that we need to keep them as safe as possible.”

There is a silver lining. Louisiana is among states where vaccination rates have risen rapidly in August. However, Florida has recently broken the U.S. record for current COVID-19 hospitalizations. Also, COVID cases continue to rise in all 50 states, so we’re not out of the woods yet. It’s important that we as Black Americans “mask up” to slow the summer surge of COVID-19. By following this simple practice, we’ll keep our Black communities safe and keep the Delta and other variants at bay.

Please take the paramount step, and get vaccinated. It will provide you with more protection from the virus and the variants. Seek information about the vaccines and vaccine access from your trusted Black messengers. The vaccines are proven to be safe and have been developed and backed by Black scientists. 

Please take a stand and get vaccinated as soon as you can. It will help you get firm control of the health in your homes and in our Black communities, stop the recent COVID-19 surge, and save more Black lives this summer. Together “We Can Do This!”

To find a place to get vaccinated in your area, go to Go to vaccines.gov or text your ZIP code to 438829

Here’s a link to everything you need to know about the Delta variant.

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