Virus resurgence prompts change in health recommendation

Masks once again required in some local places

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] recommends people in areas of substantial and high transmission of COVID-19 mask up in public indoor settings, and that’s for both the unvaccinated and fully vaccinated.
The updated guidance was released July 27 given new evidence on the delta variant that is currently circulating through the United States.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health [IDPH], the delta variant of the virus is more than two times as contagious as the original strain and some fully vaccinated people can spread delta. The agency further states, vaccines provide protection from hospitalizations, severe disease and death.
Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the delta variant can spread the virus to others.
On Monday, the Grundy County Health Department announced it would accept the interim public heath recommendations issued by the CDC, noting it has consistently followed CDC and IDPH guidelines, and will continue to do so.
“Residents may assume that Grundy accepts all future changes unless otherwise noted,” said Michelle Pruim, the county’s public health administrator.
Substantial transmission is defined by the CDC as 50 cases per 100,000 population and high transmission is more than 100 cases per 100,000 in a seven day period.
Grundy County is currently identified as an area with substantial transmission as the most recent reporting period—July 18-24—showed 57 cases out of 100,000 population.
For the same reporting period the county’s test positivity rate was 4.5% based on 649 tests and one month prior the county was at 0.7%.
To reduce the risk of becoming infected with the delta variant and potentially spreading it to others, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people:
• Wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
Fully vaccinated people might choose to mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated.
People who are at increased risk for severe disease include older adults and those who have certain medical condition, such as diabetes, overweight or obesity and heart conditions.
• Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
• Get tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.
• Isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
• Follow any applicable federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations.
People who are immunocompromised should follow current prevention measures including wearing a mask, staying 6-feet apart from others they don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.
As of Aug. 2, 72.9% o4 13.2 million Illinois residents have been vaccinated for COVID-19.
Per the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals can:
• Participate in many of the activities that they did before the pandemic, for some of these activities, they may choose to wear a mask.
• Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel, and there is no longer a need to self-quarantine after travel.
On Monday, the Illinois State Board of Education acknowledged the state’s adoption of the CDC’s updated guidance for prevention in schools and endorsed the recommendation that all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
The Unit 1 Board of Education adopted a resolution last week that does not mandate, but recommends masks for the unvaccinated.. The information within the resolution is to be used in the development of a Return to School plan.
An update on how the new guidance could amend the school district’s plan will be discussed at the Board of Education’s meeting set for tonight [Wednesday, Aug. 4] at 7 p.m.
Also on Monday, the Coal City Public Library District announced that based on the updated CDC guidelines, it will require patrons—over the age of 2 years—to wear a mask inside the library building regardless of vaccination status.
Vaccination is available to any individual age 12 and older.
The Grundy County Health Department offers vaccines through its office every Thursday and appointments can be scheduled at 815-941-3404. The health department is located at the Grundy County Administration Center, 1320 Union St., Morris.