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Coronavirus update: CDC may reverse mask policy, experts warns of an imminent surge in cases

Lysol sales are lagging now that the nation is recovering

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Photo (c) JJ Gouin - Getty Images
Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌ 

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 34,542,716 (34,453,851)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 611,062 (610,912)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 194,945,610 (194,354,288)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,172,379 (4,163,220)‌

CDC to reportedly reverse mask guidance for the vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reportedly changing its guidance on masks for people who are fully vaccinated. The New York Times reports that the agency now believes some vaccinated people should wear masks in indoor public buildings like supermarkets.

The agency issued guidance in May that said fully vaccinated people did not need to mask up. The move caught many businesses off guard but most quickly adopted that policy.

Just last week, the CDC said it had no plans to revise its guidance unless there was a significant change in the science. Federal health officials reportedly met over the weekend to review new evidence.

Former CDC director says it’s about to get a lot worse

Many states are seeing a large increase in COVID-19 cases, but former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden says it may get worse. As the Delta variant spreads, Frieden says cases could increase four-fold in the next four to six weeks.

"We're heading into a rough time. It's likely, if our trajectory is similar to that in the United Kingdom, that we could see as many as 200,000 cases a day," Frieden told CNN. 

While cases may surge, Frieden doesn’t expect a similar increase in deaths, as the U.S. experienced early in the pandemic. He says the number of people who have been vaccinated, especially the most vulnerable population, will keep the death toll low.

As America recovers, sales of Lysol fall

A year ago, germ-conscious consumers snapped up every available bottle of Lysol disinfectant, and Rickett Benckiser Group, the company that makes it, posted record sales in 2020. But in a sign that things have changed, the company reports that sales in 2021 pale in comparison.

“We are seeing shifts in behavior,” said CEO Laxman Narasimhan. “What we did see in Q2, in the U.S. in particular, was a tail off that was higher than we thought.”

Rickett’s second-quarter earnings report showed a 1% decline in overall like-for-like sales. The company warned investors that they should be ready to see lower sales growth in the current quarter.

Around the nation

  • Massachusetts: Restaurants and entertainment venues across the state are requiring proof of vaccination to counter the spread of the Delta variant. Massachusetts’ vaccination rate is much higher than the U.S. as a whole, with 63% of residents being fully protected.

  • California: Despite initial hesitancy to mandate vaccinations, California has taken that step for state employees. “We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant,” Newsom said. 

  • Louisiana: With cases of the Delta variant on the rise, Louisiana has reimposed its mask mandate for people in state buildings. Health officials say only 40% of Louisianians are currently vaccinated or in the process of vaccination.

  • Michigan: Members of the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners have had second thoughts. They have agreed to return the bonuses they awarded themselves earlier this month as “hazard pay” for working during the pandemic. They had paid themselves $65,000 out of the money the county received in COVID-19 aid.

  • Missouri: Attorney General Eric Schmidt has filed a lawsuit to stop officials in St. Louis from requiring masks to be worn in public. “This continued government overreach is unacceptable and unconstitutional, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine,” Schmidt said. Cases of the virus hit a six-month high in Missouri over the weekend.

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