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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) speaks during a press conference on June 8. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Republican lawmakers across the United States are speaking out in opposition to Tuesday's recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people wear face masks in areas with high COVID transmission rates.

Why it matters: The Delta variant is driving up case rates across the country, with roughly 46% of counties across the U.S. currently classified as areas with high transmission rates.

The White House announced Tuesday it would reimpose its requirement for staff members to wear masks indoors.

  • Congress followed suit, mandating lawmakers and their staffers to resume wearing masks "for meetings in an enclosed" space.

Driving the news: Multiple GOP governors and lawmakers are characterizing the latest health guidance as a step backward amid a flailing drive to vaccinate Americans. Some have said their states would not return to the mask orders.

  • Meanwhile, via the Washington Post: "Many Republicans have declined to say whether they have been vaccinated although they represent areas with the biggest spikes in infections."

What they're saying: "The CDC’s new guidance suggesting that vaccinated people wear masks indoors flies in the face of the public health goals that should guide the agency’s decision making," Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a statement.

  • “The State of Nebraska will not be adopting their mask guidance," he added.

"Gov. Abbott has been clear that the time for government mandating of masks is over — now is the time for personal responsibility,” the Texas governor's office said, per the Hill.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said Wednesday: "We might as well start calling this a Perma-demic. Permanent masking. Permanent state of emergency. Permanent control. This will go on until the American people just say enough is enough. The tyrants aren’t giving this up!"

The other side: President Biden told reporters Tuesday that the mask guidance was intended to "avoid the kind of lockdowns, shutdowns, school closures and disruptions we faced in 2020."

  • "Unlike 2020, we have both the scientific knowledge and the tools to prevent the spread of this disease. We are not going back to that," he added.
  • "We always just follow the guidance of the Capitol physician. There is no discussion about should we do it, should we not for one reason or another," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters. "It’s the decision of the Capitol physician, who is following the guidance of the CDC about the masks."

Go deeper

Sep 23, 2021 - Health

Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples

The San Diego California Temple in La Jolla, California. Photo: RBL/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told its members on Wednesday that all patrons and workers will be required to wear face masks at all times while in the temple.

Why it matters: It's the Mormon Church's latest effort to encourage masking and vaccination among its over 16.6 million members around the world.

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people at high risk of severe COVID-19 and people 65 years and older.

Driving the news: The approval comes just days after an FDA advisory panel recommended boosters for the two groups but overwhelmingly voted against the third shots for younger Americans.