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(July 1, 2021) – San Miguel County, CO --- In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks indoors unless state, local or business rules required face coverings.
However, for those at-risk individuals – immunocompromised or unvaccinated – and those partially vaccinated or in high exposure situations, face coverings remain an essential tool in protecting oneself and others from COVID transmission. “We understand this is confusing and there are a great number of messages being released on a global scale,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “While we have administered a remarkable number of vaccines and have worked hard to control the virus in our county, we are not yet at the finish line. We are nearing the final stretch and, with added layers of protection like masks and outdoor activities, we can continue to protect one another.” Those who are unvaccinated remain at-risk and should continue to wear masks indoors when in public and amongst other unvaccinated people for the foreseeable future. As the Delta variant advances in many countries, including the United States, transmission rates are increasing significantly, notably amongst at-risk populations.Residents and visitors that are partially vaccinated remain at risk of infection until two weeks after the full vaccine regimen is administered. Until full vaccination is achieved, masks should always be worn indoors in public spaces. For fully vaccinated people, the driving factors for mask wearing are directly related to community transmission. In areas where transmission and hospitalization rates are high, face coverings are advised to prevent a potential breakthrough infection. When indoors, if the area is crowded or the vaccination status of the crowd is unknown, face coverings further amplify protection for fully vaccinated people. Additionally, even if fully vaccinated, elderly people, those with compromised immune systems and people with preexisting conditions should behave more cautiously than others, particularly when indoors. “When considering most breakthrough cases, we’re finding that symptoms are mild or even nonexistent,” said Franklin. “This indicates that the vaccines are working well to prevent severe reactions and the worst possible outcome.”Masks are an additional tool to protect the health and wellness of local communities. When considering whether to wear a face covering, transmission rate, hospitalization metrics and one’s personal risk tolerance are the most important factors to keep in mind.