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CDC recommends masking up for everyone as cases climb back up again

A recent outbreak at a summer camp is responsible for five breakthrough cases.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that in areas where COVID-19 transmission is high, fully vaccinated people mask up in public again. 

That includes the Carolinas.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky attributed the more contagious delta variant to causing a spike in cases, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, and even some positive cases among people who have already been vaccinated, or breakthrough cases.

Health experts have always said the vaccines aren't perfect and some breakthrough was guaranteed to happen.

The COVID-19 vaccines have given millions of Americans a sense of security, but with the delta variant spreading it's clear, the pandemic is not over yet. Health experts are urging more people to get vaccinated to stop the spread.

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After the July 4 weekend, 26 campers at King Tiger Tae Kwon Do Lake Norman tested positive for the virus and so did five instructors. All of the instructors were vully vaccinated.

“I am scared to think of what would have happened if I hadn't had because I was in rough shape for a few days and just thinking what could've happened,” Natasya Hartle, one of the instructors, said.

Hartle and her co-worker Marcus Hendricks both had some COVID-19 symptoms despite being vaccinated. The camp is closed for now and doing everything virtually and they're rethinking some of their protocols.

“Possibly just wear a mask a little more often. We've been going maskless for classes and stuff, we'll put on a mask occasionally foder we have some students who are immunocompromised,” Hartle said.

More mask-wearing is what the CDC is pushing for after reviewing new science around breakthrough cases.

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“On rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” Walensky said. “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants and update to our recommendations."

They now recommend that in areas where COVID-19 transmission is high and vaccination rates are low, like the Carolinas, even fully vaccinated people mask up indoors in public.

“This was not a decision that was taken lightly. Public health experts, scientific experts, medical experts, when shown this data have universally said that this required action,” Walensky said.

They’re also recommending all students, teachers, staff and visitors in a K-12 setting wear a mask this upcoming school year.

Doctors say a potential breakthrough is not a reason to put off getting vaccinated. The shots still protect against hospitalization and death and the more people who get vaccinated, the better protected the community will be.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.