St. Clair County is now classified at the substantial community COVID-19 transmission level, health officials said Aug. 9.
From Aug. 1 to 7, the county had a case rate of 54.67 per 100,000 persons and a test positivity rate of 5.68%.
“We anticipate these numbers to increase in the coming weeks,” county officials said in a news release. “Neighboring counties have also met the moderate or substantial transmission threshold and are trending upwards, as well.”
On July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendation for mask wearing, the release states. To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others, the CDC recommends everyone – including fully vaccinated individuals – wear a mask indoors in public if in an area of substantial or high transmission.
In addition, given new evidence, the CDC is also recommending indoor face masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, indicating that children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies.
Indoor masking for all in K-12 schools aims to reduce transmission of COVID-19, prevent student and employee absenteeism due to illness, and promote a healthy in-person learning environment.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and St. Clair County Health Department fully support and endorse the new CDC recommendations, the release states.
The SCCHD recommends face mask wearing for all individuals – fully vaccinated and unvaccinated – while indoors in public. Given the community transmission status change, the health department also encourages schools and businesses to consider the latest public health recommendations when determining risk mitigation strategies for employees and clients within buildings.
“A layered protection strategy should be followed to ensure a healthy environment, allowing all St. Clair County residents the best chance to remain healthy and physically present at work and in the classroom setting,” the release states.
The release gave the following risk mitigation measures:
- Receive the COVID-19 vaccine, if eligible.
- Wear your face mask while indoors.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Maintain a distance of 6 feet from others.
- Enhance ventilation systems within buildings.
- Stay home when sick and get tested for COVID-19.
- Adhere to isolation if you test positive for COVID-19 or quarantine if considered a close contact.
“The Delta variant of COVID-19 is highly contagious and increases the risk of illness and outbreaks,” SCCHD Medical Health Officer Dr. Annette Mercatante said in the release. “That is why a layered protection strategy is once again needed to help stop the spread of the virus. Vaccination remains the best tool in our toolbox to prevent COVID-19 infection, severe disease, hospitalization and death. However, adding back in another tool, like wearing your face mask while indoors, will help ensure everyone is doing their part to protect our community against the Delta variant.”
As of Aug. 9, 51% of St. Clair County residents 12 and older had received at least one dose of vaccine. The health department offers COVID-19 vaccines at both their main office and Teen Health locations.
“We understand the frustration brought on by the length of the pandemic and with the changing recommendations,” Mercatante said. “It has been an exceptionally difficult period. However, as more is learned about the virus and the new variants, we must change our recommendations accordingly. Please know that we recognize the potential impact our guidance can have on the community and weigh those decisions carefully.”
As of Aug. 12, the county reported about 85 active COVID-19 cases with about 18,800 total cases and 429 total deaths over the course of the outbreak. County health officials also reported a 6.6% positivity rate as of Aug. 10.
In the SCCHD’s Aug. 5 Facebook Live update, Mercatante gave an update about current COVID-19 trends and the vaccine in the county. She also noted that the Facebook Live sessions, which had moved to a monthly schedule with the slow of COVID-19 transmission, will move back to a weekly schedule.
“Our numbers are starting to rise slowly,” she said. “We have the beginnings of another upwards slope.”
Mercatante said the health department is assuming that there is “much” of the Delta variant in the county.
“If it’s not here as a majority of transmission, it will be soon, so just assume that we’re going to be seeing this next wave with primarily the Delta variant being the driver of that,” she said.
A commenter asked if there has been an increase in vaccines since the onset of the Delta variant.
Mercatante said there has been more interest in vaccines; a health department employee noted that the department had about 300 first doses of the vaccine the week prior and about 600 first doses that week.
“Please, please consider getting vaccinated,” Mercatante said. “It’s a great vaccine. It is our key to controlling this and not going back and forth into these terrible events where we’re surging so please … try not to swallow all the misinformation out there.”
Emily Pauling is a staff writer for The Voice. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Originally Appeared Here