Most cities and counties dropped mask mandates in May and June after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people did not need to wear them. But the agency changed its guidance July 28, saying that the vaccinated should resume wearing face coverings in areas with high virus transmission.
As the nation grapples with the delta variant, covid-19 cases are being reported at levels similar to those seen in January, before vaccines became widely available. Hospitalization rates have hit a level not seen since Jan. 30.
However, even as many hospitals are under strain, deaths overall are fewer; the daily average of deaths at the end of January was 3,100, compared with about 1,100 as of Wednesday.