Wearing masks is optional for those who are healthy, according to new COVID-19 guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data,” the CDC said on its coronavirus web page. “Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. Take precautions to protect yourself and others from (the coronavirus) based on the COVID-19 Community Level in your area.”
Looking at Delaware County, the community level is medium.
“If you at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions,” the CDC said. “People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.”
If the COVID-19 community level were to be considered high, the CDC’s recommendation is to wear a mask indoors in public.
The latest COVID-19 community level map of Ohio shows that most counties are medium, with a handful counties that are high and low.
A total of 78.8 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the United States, resulting in 947,882 deaths, the CDC said. However, cases have fallen sharply over the last 30 days, and 81.2% of people 5 and older have had at least one vaccination.
“In his State of the Union address (Tuesday night), President Biden emphasized that because of the progress we have made as a country against COVID-19 and the widely available tools we have to protect ourselves, we are in a position to move forward safely and get back to our more normal routines,” the White House Press Office said.
As a result of the progress and the CDC guidance, the county’s health agency is also changing how it reports about the infectious disease.
“The Delaware Public Health District will continue to evaluate this tool along with other data sources as they become available to allow for us to give the best prevention information possible,” DPHD posted on Facebook Feb. 28. “Due to this newly released guidance, the weekly Critical Factor Report Card will no longer be issued. We want to extend a heart-felt thank you to our community for doing their part during this time and also ask that residents still comply with the practices of businesses that continue to require masks.”
DPHD also reiterated in the post that masks “are not required within the medium or low risk levels.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.