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Nurses union calls on CDC to reinstate universal masking guidance

Photo: valentinrussanov/iStockphoto

Silver Spring, MD — The nation’s largest union and professional association of direct care registered nurses is urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update agency guidance and reinstate the “recommendation to everyone to wear masks in public or in physical proximity to others outside their own household.”

In a letter dated July 12 and sent to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, National Nurses United Executive Director Bonnie Castillo calls the COVID-19 pandemic “far from over” based on a recent rapid rise in cases nationwide.

“CDC’s guidance failed to account for the possibility … of infection and transmission of the virus, especially variants of concern, by fully vaccinated individuals,” Castillo writes.

Between July 4-11, the Delta variant accounted for more than 80% of new cases nationally, according to CDC data.

Castillo contends that the rise of COVID-19 variants isn’t surprising based on “the rapid reopening of many states and the removal of public health measures, including the CDC’s May 13 guidance update that told vaccinated individuals they no longer needed to wear masks, observe physical distancing, avoid crowds, or get tested or isolate after an exposure, within only a few exceptions.”


According to NNU, the guidance fails to protect “vulnerable patients,” children and infants who cannot get vaccinated, along with immunocompromised people.

NNU also is calling on CDC to:

  • Require tracking and transparent reporting of COVID-19 infections among health care workers and other essential workers.
  • Update health care infection control and other COVID-19 guidance to fully recognize aerosol transmission.
  • Track infections among fully vaccinated people, including mild and asymptomatic infections.

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