Psaki: ‘Unvaccinated people should be more fearful’ of delta variant than the vaccinated

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The White House on Thursday said unvaccinated individuals “should be more fearful” amid the threat of the delta variant of COVID-19, while deferring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on any updated mask guidance.

As the Biden administration pushes to get Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, White House press secretary Jen Psaki delivered another warning to those unvaccinated. 


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

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

Meanwhile, Psaki was asked whether the Biden administration was weighing pushing a new mask mandate, after a Washington Post report said White House aides are in talks with officials at the CDC about proposed messaging to the public. 

The report said the White House was hesitant to implement policies that would mandate people to show proof of their vaccination status, but said aides were in talks to discuss whether to ask Americans to wear masks when vaccinated and unvaccinated people congregate in crowded places. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

But Psaki said that “there has been no decision to change our mask guidelines.” 

“If any decisions about public health would be driven by the CDC,” Psaki said. “But, of course, we are engaged with public health experts and the CDC about how to continue to attack the virus, and we’ve never said that battle is over. It is still ongoing.” 

Psaki added that “it would be more concerning, or should be more concerning, to all of you and the American people if we were not having those conversations.” 

“We are guided by the science and are guided by our public health experts,” Psaki said. “And any decision would come from the CDC.” 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, during the COVID briefing on Thursday, 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,” Walenksy said. 

Walensky also warned that the delta variant is “spreading with incredible efficiency and now represents more than 83% of the virus circulating the United States.” 


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 those 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.” 

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