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To mask or not to mask? Some experts say it's time to put the masks back on as the Delta variant spreads

The CDC currently recommends masks indoors for anyone who is unvaccinated. For vaccinated people, it said masks "maximize" protection against the Delta variant.

There is no statewide mandate for masks in Pennsylvania. 

But many health experts claim it's a good time to put the mask back on -- no matter your vaccination status.

"The way that I would explain it to people is wear it anywhere where you don't know everybody who's in the room's vaccine status," said Dr. Nancy Mimm, who is the Assistant Professor and Program Lead Master of Science in Nursing and Population Health at Harrisburg University of Science & Technology

Currently the CDC recommends masks for unvaccinated people indoors. If fully vaccinated, it recommends wearing a mask indoors in public if you live in an area of substantial or high rates of transmission to 'maximize' protection from the Delta variant. 

As of Friday, Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, and Perry counties were considered in the 'high' category. York and Lebanon counties were listed as 'substantial.'

"Even if you are vaccinated, no vaccine is 100% effective when it comes to prevent illness," said Patrick Weidinger, Director of Safety & Environmental Health at Millersville University. 

Weidinger echoed Mimm as he emphasized the importance of combining vaccinations with masks to maximize protection against the virus. 

"Wearing masks and vaccination are both effective when everybody does them," said Weidinger. 

Both Weidinger and Mimm said the N95 mask is still considered the best protection. However they said any mask is better than no mask. 

Currently, multiple school districts and businesses in Pennsylvania are debating requiring masks. Governor Tom Wolf has repeatedly said he is not considering a statewide mandate at this time.

Philadelphia businesses are already requiring masks or proof of vaccination from employees and customers. However, businesses that require staff and customers to be fully vaccinated will not be required to follow the masking rule. The decision was announced by the city's acting health commissioner. 

Meantime on Friday a CDC panel unanimously voted to recommend booster shots of Pfizer and Moderna to immunocompromised Americans. 

The CDC lists the following as its latest guidance for masks as of Augsut 13.

Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus).

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