Target to require masks for workers in areas with substantial COVID risk

Coronavirus

FILE- This May 3, 2017, file photo shows the Target logo on a store in Upper Saint Clair, Pa. Target reported strong fourth-quarter profits, though its sales were weighed down by weak toy and electronics sales during the crucial holiday shopping season. Target joins a string of other retailers, including Walmart, with disappointing sales during the shortest holiday shopping period since 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WVLA) – Target is joining Walmart in making masks mandatory for some employees as the delta variant continues to spread in U.S. communities.

For now, when it comes to guests, Target is not going to require they wear masks in their stores. For locations where there is a “substantial or high risk” of COVID-19 transmission, Target said they will mandate masks for employees and “strongly recommend” them for shoppers.

The Minneapolis-based retailer released this statement below with the updated requirements:

The health and safety of our guests and team members have been Target’s top priority throughout the pandemic. Target will continue to recommend face coverings for unvaccinated team members and guests at all stores across the country. Effective Tuesday, based on the CDC’s updated guidance, we’ll require face coverings for our team members and strongly recommend face coverings for all guests in areas with substantial or high risk of transmission, as defined by the CDC. We’ll follow all local mandates, as we have throughout the pandemic, and continue to monitor guidance from the CDC closely. We will also maintain all of our health and safety protocols that include increased cleaning measures and social distancing. We encourage our team members and guests to get the COVID-19 vaccine by offering vaccine appointments at nearly all CVS at Target locations and providing paid time and free Lyft rides to team members when they get their vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Sunday that more “pain and suffering” is on the horizon as COVID-19 cases climb again and officials plead with unvaccinated Americans to get their shots.

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, also said he doesn’t foresee additional lockdowns in the U.S. because he believes enough people are vaccinated to avoid a recurrence of last winter. However, he said not enough are inoculated to “crush the outbreak” at this point.

Fauci’s warning comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course to recommend that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infection surges. With the switch, federal health officials have cited studies showing vaccinated people can spread the virus to others.

Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. So-called breakthrough infections can occur in vaccinated people, and though the vast majority of those cause mild or no symptoms, the research shows they can carry about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots.

A summary of the CDC’s recent changes regarding mask guidelines can be found below:

  • Updated information for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant currently circulating in the United States.
  • Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
  • Added information that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
  • Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
  • CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

The latest numbers from the CDC show that 610,873 have died from COVID-19 in the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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