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Biden admin. weighs pushing masks as COVID-19 delta variant cases rise

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A COVID-19 prayer vigil takes place on the National Mall honoring and mourning those Americans who have died due to the coronavirus pandemic on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Via AFP)

The Biden administration is reportedly weighing whether to formally urge vaccinated Americans to once again mask up as the COVID-19 cases is rising across the United States and the highly contagious Delta variant is taking hold.

White House aides are in talks with officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about proposed messaging to the public, the US media reported.

The talks come as daily COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled in the US in the past 30 days, climbing to more than 37,000, up from less than 13,700 on July 7. 

The US COVID deaths also rose 25% last week to an average of 250 per day.

The skyrocketing COVID cases put yet another strain on hospitals and exhausted doctors. The average number of people hospitalized has risen 21% to over 19,000 over the past 30 days.
 
The White House is reportedly hesitant to implement policies that would explicitly mandate people show proof of their vaccination status. Reports say one idea is to ask Americans to wear masks even when vaccinated, and unvaccinated people not to congregate in crowded places.

Slowing vaccination rates and the delta variant are being blamed for the rising cases. Barely more than 56% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC. 

Most of the new COVID outbreaks were in parts of the country with low vaccinations rate, prompting political leaders to ramp up push for jabs among reluctant Americans.

President Joe Biden said the nation's economic recovery hinged on getting better at controlling the pandemic.

"So please, please get vaccinated," Biden pleaded, citing higher rates of COVID-19 in states with low vaccination rates. "Get vaccinated now."

In Southern California, Los Angeles County has ordered residents to wear masks indoors again following a surge in the COVID cases.

New York City, however, has no plans to reimpose mask mandates despite a rise in cases. The city's mayor Mayor Bill said he would redouble vaccination efforts.

Utah's Salt Lake County is contending with the Delta variant, which is responsible for 90% of the new cases. Some 40% of eligible Americans there are not fully vaccinated yet, with leaders and doctors scrambling to persuade them to accept the shots.

More than 34,270,000 people in the United States have been infected with COVID-19 and over 615,200 Americans died of the virus as of July 22.


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