RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the first time the commonwealth has hit that mark since late April.
The uptick in cases comes as concerns over the more contagious Delta variant — and its possible impact on mask policies across the country — continues to grow. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its recommendations on mask wearing in public indoor spaces.
Even if someone is fully vaccinated, the CDC is calling for people to wear masks in areas with surging case counts. This recommendation is specifically for parts of the country with “substantial or high transmission.”
As of Thursday, the CDC is reporting that 66% of U.S. counties, including dozens in Virginia, have substantial or high transmission levels.
You can find the local areas with such levels below:
- New Kent County
- Amelia County
- City of Petersburg
- Charles City County
- Spotsylvania County
- King William County
- Prince George County
- City of Richmond
- Henrico County
- Hanover County
- Louisa County
- Powhatan County
- Dinwiddie County
- Nottoway County
- Buckingham County
- Chesterfield County
- Caroline County
State leaders do not have to follow the CDC recommendations on masks, which also calls for a universal indoor mask wearing “for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
While rising vaccination rates led Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to lift many of Virginia’s coronavirus restrictions, the governor said Wednesday that his administration was reviewing the latest CDC guidance on mask wearing.
When asked whether his administration will consider restoring its universal mask policy indoors, Northam added, “We’re looking at those options. Our team is studying this and we’ve been in communication this [Wednesday] morning.”
On Thursday, Northam answered the questions on Twitter.
“All Virginians should consider wearing a mask in public indoor settings where there is increased risk of #COVID19 transmission, as the new @CDCgov guidance recommends,” the governor wrote.
“This is not a requirement, but a recommendation.”
UPDATE: This story was updated to added Gov. Northam’s tweet encouraging mask-wearing, which was posted after publication.