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National nurses union calls for CDC to 'reinstate universal masking' regardless of individual's vaccination status

National Nurses United wants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to tighten its mask recommendations and call for mask-wearing regardless of whether an individual has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

"NNU strongly urges the CDC to reinstate universal masking, irrespective of vaccination status, to help reduce the spread of the virus, especially from infected individuals who do not have any symptoms. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 disease, spreads easily from person to person via aerosol transmission when an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infected individuals can spread infectious SARS-CoV-2 aerosols during breathing and speaking, without coughing or other respiratory symptoms," NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, wrote in a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

On its website, NNU bills itself as "the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in U.S. history," with more than 170,000 members nationwide.

The letter, among other things, calls upon the government agency to "Reinstate the recommendation for everyone to wear masks when in public or in physical proximity to others outside their own household."

The CDC's current guidance states that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks.

"You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance," the CDC says, regarding those who have been fully vaccinated.

According to the CDC, 48.1% of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against the disease, while 55.6% of the population has received at least a single dose of a vaccine.

While the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two shots, the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine only involves one shot.

So far there have been more than 33.9 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and more than 607,000 fatalities, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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