Douglas Co. urges residents to wear masks, even if fully vaccinated

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 12:05 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Lawrence-Douglas Co. Public Health is urging residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health says it encourages residents to continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that was updated on Tuesday. It said the new guidance recommends everyone over the age of 2, even those that are fully vaccinated, to wear masks in indoor public space, including schools, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially with the Delta variant present in the community.

According to LDCPH, the updated guidance also recommends that everyone inside schools wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, due to the possibility of much of the population being unvaccinated. Currently, it said COVID-19 vaccines are available to residents 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. “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.”

LDCPH said with the recent emergence of the Delta variant in Missouri counties with low vaccination rates, which has spread to Douglas Co., it has seen an average of 15 new cases per day. It said this new case rate is the highest it has seen since February. Previously, the county was only seeing one to two new cases per day.

Similar to national trends, LDCPH said it currently has no reports of a fully vaccinated resident having to be hospitalized for COVID-19. It said nearly 70% of new cases reported in the county in July have happened in unvaccinated, but eligible, residents. It said over 60% of residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and 53% have been fully vaccinated.

According to the health department, LMH Health has six COVID-positive patients as of Tuesday, which is down from nine on Monday, but for several weeks the number of patients has been much lower.

LDCPH said while the current guidance noted that research shows fully vaccinated individuals are responsible for only a small amount of transmission and are effectively protected from severe illness due to the virus, they could still be asymptomatic and potentially spread the virus, putting unvaccinated individuals at risk, including those under the age of 11 who are 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. “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.”

According to LDCPH, it will offer several vaccine clinics to the community this week, for those 12 and older, including at the Douglas Co. Fair and Lied Center.

Those interested in booking a vaccine appointment should click HERE.

To see a full list of LDCPH COVID-19 vaccine clinics, click HERE.

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