In line with CDC, Douglas County now recommends masks for everyone 2 and older in indoor public spaces; school district mandating masks in its buildings
photo by: Lauren Fox
With COVID-19 cases again on the rise, especially the more contagious Delta variant, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health is encouraging residents to follow updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommends everyone 2 and older, even those fully vaccinated, to wear masks in indoor public spaces, including in K-12 schools.
In addition, the Lawrence school district announced on Tuesday afternoon that it would be mandating masks for individuals 2 and older in all of its buildings, effective immediately.
The updated CDC guidance recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks regardless of vaccination status due to the potential that much of the population could be unvaccinated. Currently vaccines are available for anyone 12 and older.
“Especially because of the increasing hospitalizations and cases in our county, LDCPH is strongly recommending the public continue to follow CDC’s guidance, which now recommends indoor mask wearing in public settings for everyone 2 and older,” said Dan Partridge, director of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, in a news release Tuesday. “Our community has done a great job in this pandemic following guidance of scientific and medical experts, and it has put us in a good position. We are asking everyone to continue to stay the course and those unvaccinated to make an appointment to help prevent the spread of COVID and the Delta variant.”
Douglas County’s 14-day moving average of new cases per day in July has climbed to 15 — the highest rate since February — after several weeks at one to two new cases per day, according to the release.
LDCPH currently has no reports of a fully vaccinated resident having to be hospitalized for COVID-19. And nearly 70% of the new Douglas County cases reported in July have occurred among unvaccinated but eligible people. More than 60% of Douglas County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 53% have completed their vaccine series.
The updated CDC guidance noted that while current research shows that fully vaccinated individuals represent a small amount of transmission and are effectively protected from severe illness due to COVID-19, they could potentially still be asymptomatic and spread the virus in some cases, putting those unvaccinated at risk, including children 11 and younger who are currently not eligible for the vaccine.
“Now is the time if you have been holding out on a vaccination. We have no reports of a fully vaccinated Douglas County resident to date having to be hospitalized for COVID. The vaccines are providing great protection for everyone, especially our most vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Thomas Marcellino, local health officer, in the release. “With the contagious Delta variant in our community, those unvaccinated are the most at risk for severe illness, including hospitalization and potentially death, so wearing masks and getting vaccinated are the best tools we have right now in this ongoing pandemic.”
LDCPH is offering several vaccine clinics in the community this week, for anyone 12 and older, including at the Douglas County Fair and Lied Center. Check LDCHealth.org/Calendar for the full list.
Anyone interested in booking a vaccine appointment or learning more about incentives for getting vaccinated can visit LDCHealth.org/COVIDVaccine.