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TTUHSC emergency medicine chief says it’s time to mask up again due to Delta variant

El PASO, Texas -- The head of emergency medicine for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso believes it may be time for people to start wearing face masks again, even if they're fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Centers for Disease Control says the highly contagious Delta variant now accounts for more than 80 percent of new cases in the U.S.

"Now we're seeing patients who are fully vaccinated, unfortunately in some cases getting the Delta virus, the Delta version of the Covid virus, and becoming sick from it. So to protect ourselves, now it's a good time to go back to wearing masks," said Dr. Edward Michelson.

Michelson said fully-vaccinated people should particularly wear a mask if they're indoors or if they're with people who are not their immediate family. However, he said you should still have a good amount of protection with the vaccine.

"The vast majority of patients vaccinated never become sick enough to have to go to the hospital," he said. "When you do look at patients who are in the hospital with Covid, 99% of them were never vaccinated."

Scientists have indicated that the Delta variant is twice as transmissible as the original Covid-19, and Michelson believes there is a high chance that the Delta variant is responsible for the recent increase in Covid cases in El Paso.

However, the strain has not yet been officially discovered in the Borderland, but local officials believe there is a high chance it's already here.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that the White House is in talks with the CDC on whether to push for updated mask guidance amid the surge in variant cases.

"My hope is that rather than relying to politicians to come to agreement that is acceptable to require masks, that individuals will voluntarily do the right thing and start wearing their masks again when they're around other individuals," Michelson replied when asked about whether he thought another mask mandate was necessary.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Jesus A. Rodriguez

KVIA ABC-7 News executive producer


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