Memphis area doctors welcome new CDC mask recommendations

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mid-South doctors say they welcome Tuesday’s new mask recommendations from the CDC.

It comes as cases of the Delta Variant soar across the country and the Mid-South. The CDC now recommends vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in places where COVID-19 is on the rise.

The Director of the CDC said this was not a decision she took lightly but recent data required this action.

“People act like, and you’ll see report that it’s a problem the CDC is changing its guidance. The problem would be if they didn’t change their guidance,” said Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, an Infectious Disease Specialist.

Mid-South doctors say they’re concerned about a rise in COVID cases in the Mid-South thanks to the highly contagious Delta variant.

“They are recognizing that this is a different battle that we are fighting and they’re adjusting our way of doing it,” said Threlkeld.

They’re even more concerned about low vaccination rates in our area. Here’s why, Baptist Memphis doubled its hospitalization rate in the last week.

That trend is why the CDC updated its recommendations for mask wearing among vaccinated people.

“We’re basically taking a step back based on the data and those data are somewhat alarming,” said Threlkeld.

The CDC points out this decision is to protect people that can’t get vaccinated like kids and immune compromised people.

“If I’m vaccinated and I might be infected and not sick and still be infectious, I’ll prevent me spreading it to other people by wearing the mask even though I’m not sick,” said Jeff Warren, COVID Taskforce Member.

Doctors say they are concerned about breakthrough cases among vaccinated people but not nearly as much as for those who won’t wear a mask or get their shot.

“I am afraid of this virus, of this delta variant and if you’re not respectfully I would argue you don’t have enough information about it because those of us around it and watching it increasingly kill younger people are afraid of it. It’s hunting you if you’re unvaccinated,” said Threlkeld.

We asked the health department about an updated health directive given this new information and got this statement:

“The Shelby County Health Department is evaluating the new guidance issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We also reiterate the CDC’s recommendation that residents get vaccinated. The vaccine prevents severe illness, hospitalization, and even death; and also helps reduce the spread of virus in our community.” 

Dr. La Sonya Harris Hall, Interim Director of Shelby County Health Services

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