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CDC recommends nearly all East Tennessee counties return to wearing masks inside, including vaccinated people

In East Tennessee, only Meigs County and Unicoi County are not included in the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TENNESSEE, USA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that vaccinated people should return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. with substantial or high amounts of community transmission of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The CDC also recommended wearing masks inside for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

For a county to have "substantial transmission," there need to be 50-100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period. They said that a county is considered to have "high transmission" if they have more than 100 cases per 100,000.

Nearly all of East Tennessee is considered to have substantial or high transmission rates, according to the CDC. In total, more than 2,000 counties across the U.S. fall under their new recommendations.

In East Tennessee, only Meigs County and Unicoi County are not included in the new guidance.

Knox County is considered to have substantial transmission rates of COVID-19, according to the CDC. They said the county has seen around 80 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the last week. On Monday, Mayor Glenn Jacobs said he would not issue new COVID-19 restrictions.

However, information about whether he has the authority to issue new restrictions was not immediately available. Martha Buchanan, the director of the Knox County Department of Health, could have the power to issue new restrictions instead.

Knox County Schools said they were not planning any changes unless the Board of Education's previous policy requiring masks is reinstated.

The CDC said the new guidance is a result of new information about the COVID-19 delta variant's ability to spread among vaccinated people. However, studies have shown that the available vaccines work against the delta variant.

Experts say the delta variant spreads more easily because of mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies.