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New CDC Masking Guidance 

This message is sent on behalf of Bill Bornstein, MD, PhD, EHC Chief Medical Officer and Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer and Sharon Pappas, PhD, RN, EHC Chief Nurse Executive

Team EHC,

On July 27, the CDC updated its guidance on masks for fully vaccinated individuals. The CDC now recommends that fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission. Atlanta and all the surrounding counties are areas of substantial or high transmission.

This updated guidance is a response to the increasing incidence of COVID-19 being driven primarily by the highly transmissible Delta variant. The emergence and rapid spread of the Delta variant has been accelerated by the large number of unvaccinated individuals in the population.

The vaccines that are available in the U.S. continue to be highly effective against the Delta variant but breakthrough infections among the vaccinated are occurring. Fortunately, the vaccines are particularly effective at preventing serious illness and death among those who do get breakthrough infections, even with the Delta variant.

What does the new guidance mean for Emory Healthcare (EHC) providers and staff?

  • In view of the updated CDC guidance and increased level of community transmission, we recommend wearing masks in all non-patient and patient-facing areas including meetings at EHC whether individuals are vaccinated or not.
  • We also recommend against eating together whether vaccinated or not.

We recognize that these changes are particularly painful given that at least for the vaccinated, things had been gradually moving towards normal.

The best way to get back to life without masks and other COVID-related restrictions is for everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible, and for everyone to follow this new guidance until community transmission falls again. The greater the number of unvaccinated individuals in the community, the longer COVID will persist and the greater the likelihood of the emergence of potentially even more worrisome future variants.

We strongly recommend that you get vaccinated now to protect yourself, your patients and loved ones. We previously communicated to EHC staff and providers we would not require vaccination until the vaccines received full FDA approval. We have been fully planning to require vaccination once the vaccines receive FDA approval, but given the significant uptick in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant we are reviewing this plan. More information on our vaccine policy and exemption process will be available soon. In the meantime, we strongly encourage you to get vaccinated now to protect yourself, your patients and loved ones.

Thank you for your support and all you do.