The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce Tuesday that some vaccinated individuals resume wearing masks in certain situations to protect against COVID-19, reversing its earlier guidance that only unvaccinated individuals should wear face coverings. 

A federal source confirmed the news to Fox News after reporting from the New York Times.

In May, the CDC announced that vaccinated individuals were not required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, or physically distance, while maintaining that unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks and socially distance. 

At the time, the CDC still recommended that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks while in crowded indoor settings, such as riding public transportation and in hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. The CDC told Fox News last week it had "no plans" to update its mask use recommendations.

The expected guidance comes as the Biden administration ramps up its warnings about the delta variant of COVID-19, as the strain becomes more prominent in the United States. 


The delta variant has ripped through the unvaccinated population in America, with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky saying the variant is "spreading with incredible efficiency and now represents more than 83% of the virus circulating the United States." 

Last week, the White House said unvaccinated individuals "should be more fearful" than the vaccinated of the threat of the delta variant.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki cited a CBS News poll that showed that vaccinated Americans are more fearful about the delta variant than unvaccinated people. 

CDC to recommend masks to vaccinated people

FILE - In this July 1, 2021, file photo visitors wear masks as they walk in a shopping district in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. A rapid and sustained increase in COVID-19 cases in the nation's largest county requires restoring an indoor mask mandate even when people are vaccinated, Los Angeles County's public health officer said Thursday, July 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

"That’s clearly concerning to us because unvaccinated people should be more fearful," Psaki said.


Meanwhile, Walensky, during the COVID briefing last week, maintained that unvaccinated individuals "need to be wearing a mask to protect yourself and others around you." 

"We need more people to get vaccinated to stop this pandemic," she said, adding that the CDC recommendations "haven’t changed," but warned that if individuals are in an area that has a high case rate and low rate of vaccination, "you should certainly be wearing a mask." 

"If you are unvaccinated, if you are vaccinated, you get exceptional protection from the vaccines, but you have the opportunity to make the personal choice to add extra layers of protection if you so choose," Walensky said. 

Walensky also urged Americans who are hesitant to get vaccinated to speak with their health care providers and friends and family to ask questions before making the "critical decision." Walensky also urged the unvaccinated to "continue to do the things that we know worked to protect you and your family until you are fully vaccinated." 


Walensky added that unvaccinated individuals should take the delta variant "very seriously." 

"If you are not vaccinated, please take the delta very seriously. This virus has no incentive to let up and it remains in search of the next vulnerable person to infect," Walensky said. "Please consider getting vaccinated and take precautions until you do." 

At this point, the CDC says that more than 163 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, while more than 188 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.