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Virginia Reviews New CDC Guidelines for Masks

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The CDC is again urging Americans to wear protective masks indoors – even if they’ve been vaccinated – in places where COVID is surging.  While the state's health department considers that announcement, Sandy Hausman spoke with an expert at UVA about what it means for Virginia.

Thirty-eight counties in Virginia report high or substantial rates of COVID transmission.  Many are in the southern part of the state, but Roanoke City, Buckingham, Greene, Louisa, Spotsylvania, Charles City and Chesterfield are also included.  That’s why Dr. Taison Bell says area residents would be wise to resume wearing masks inside.

“The Delta variant has changed everything," he explains. "We’re seeing hotspots pop up again, and our vaccination rate has been going down.  It makes sense to go back to what we know was containing the spread of the virus.”

Bell says people who’ve been vaccinated do enjoy protection, even against the Delta variant.

“When you see that only 3% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were fully vaccinated, you can see that they are still powerful in preventing you from getting very sick.”

In Virginia, only Nelson County reports low COVID transmission.  In Albemarle, Fluvanna, Augusta, Powhatan, Henrico, Richmond City, Bath, Goochland and Rockbridge the spread of the coronavirus is considered moderate.

Bell says booster shots may be in the cards for some Virginians.

“You can probably bet on boosters for at least immunocompromised people and those 65 or above.  Whether younger folks need it I think is yet to be determined.”

And by the end of the year he says the FDA may approve vaccine for kids under 12.  Until then, he’s betting schools will require children to wear masks when they return to classrooms this fall.  

To see an interactive map showing where COVID cases are most prevalent click on this link https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.
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