TEXAS — Describing the current dramatic uptick in new cases of COVID-19 and resultant hospitalizations as “worrisome,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday updated its mask guidance to recommend unvaccinated and vaccinated people wear masks indoors.

What You Need To Know

  • The CDC Tuesday revised its mask guidance to say both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear facial protection indoors 

  • Sen. Ted Cruz said the CDC's decision was "driven by politics, not science"

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted "The time for government mask mandates is over"

  • CDC director says increased mask usage and higher rates of vaccination could halt the current COVID-19 escalation

In addition, in a conference Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the "CDC recommends everyone in grades K to12 wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors regardless of vaccination status."

That’s not sitting well with some Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott.

Dr. Walensky says the new mask-wearing guidance, coupled with higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19, could halt the current escalation of infections in “a couple of weeks.”

“We can halt the chain of transmission,” she said. “We can do something if we unify together, if we get people vaccinated who are not yet vaccinated, if we mask in the interim, we can halt this in just a matter of a couple of weeks.”

The delta variant is fueling the case surge and the large number of Americans who remain unvaccinated are likely giving rise to variants such as delta.

Walensky says the new guidance was prompted by data that vaccinated people can pass on the virus. However, the vast number of infections are occurring in unvaccinated people, she noted. Walensky said 80% of the counties with the highest number of infections have less than 40% of people vaccinated.

Despite that, Sen. Cruz took to Twitter to decry the public health guidance, writing, “Today’s decision, sadly, was driven by politics, not science. Let me be clear: there should be no more COVID mandates, no mask mandates, no vaccine mandates, no vaccine passports, no lockdowns, and no school closures.”

“Enough is enough. The CDC has lost its credibility when it comes to what decisions Americans should make about COVID-19. It’s long past time we got back to trusting the American people, not unelected federal bureaucrats,” Cruz continued.

Gov. Abbott echoed Cruz, writing, “The time for government mask mandates is over—now is the time for personal responsibility. In May, I signed an executive order prohibiting mask mandates by gov't entities. Every Texan has the right to choose whether they will wear a mask or have their children wear masks.”

There is a great deal of concern among parents and educators as children prepare to head back to school in a few weeks. Children 12 and under are still not eligible to be vaccinated.

Texas Democrats earlier this week sent a letter to Abbott and education leaders asking that the governor reverse course on his mask order and that more virtual learning options be made available. Texas schools currently receive no extra funding to provide distance learning.

Austin ISD this week announced that despite a lack of funding it will provide virtual learning to some students between kindergarten and sixth grade.