On February 25th the CDC updated their guidance for the general population regarding wearing masks indoors, as well as the requirement for face masks on school buses and vans. These changes come as a result of the drop in COVID-19 cases in the country and moves us towards a system that asks the individual to assess risk and determine the best actions to take. Anyone 2 years old and older must continue to wear a mask when traveling on an airplane, community bus, or a train and while in a transportation hub such as an airport or bus station. Masks are no longer required on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems.
The guidance for wearing a mask indoors is tied to the current level of community transmission. The level for each county can be found on the CDC webpage. Branch, Hillsdale, and St. Joseph counties are currently in the Medium category. The CDC has outlined prevention steps you should take based on your community level. The following chart can assist you:
Regardless of community level, settings such as healthcare, nursing homes, prisons, and other congregate care settings, may still require masks for employees and visitors to ensure the safety of vulnerable clients, residents, and employees.
Here are some reasons why you may want to consider wearing a mask when risk is low or medium when you are out and about in the community:
· You are around a group of individuals and you are unsure of their vaccination status
· You or a loved one are immunocompromised or have risk factors that put you at high risk for severe illness
· You work with vulnerable individuals, such as those in congregate or long-term care
· You have been exposed to someone who is positive (you are a close contact)
A well-fitted, high filtration mask continues to serve an important role in protecting individuals from exposure to illness. KN-95 masks continue to be available at your local health department office.
“It is very important that individuals continue to isolate if they test positive for COVID-19, and that close contacts quarantine and take appropriate precautions. Individuals up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine are recommended to wear a mask for 10 days after a known exposure, see full details of quarantine and isolation”, says Rebecca Burns, Health Officer.
If you have any questions about what to do if you test positive on an at-home test, or any issues finding testing or other COVID-19 related resources, please call your local health department location and hit option 7 to leave a message. Our team will return your call and help you find the resources or information you need.
Free COVID-19 testing continues to be offered at our locations as follows:
· Coldwater location – 570 Marshall Road, Coldwater – Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
· Hillsdale – 20 Care Drive, Lower Level, Hillsdale – Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
· Three Rivers – 1110 Hill Street, Three Rivers – Fridays from 9:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency is committed to promoting wellness, preventing disease, providing health care, and protecting the environment. For more information, contact your local office, visit www.bhsj.org, follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/BHSJCHA or Instagram www.instagram.com/bhsj_healthagency.