RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond and Henrico health districts issued a recommendation Friday for people to wear masks indoors when around others they don’t live with, regardless of their vaccination status.
The local health districts cited “substantial community transmission.”
The universal mask recommendation will stay in place until the health districts notify the public otherwise, “even if community transmission dips to moderate or low levels,” according to the RHHD. Clinical and epidemiological experts at the RHHD will consider cases, hospitalizations, deaths, community transmission and other guidelines before adjusting the recommendation.
Concerns over the more contagious Delta variant — and its possible impact on mask policies across the country — continues to grow after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised its recommendations on mask wearing in public indoor spaces.
The CDC is calling for people, even those who are fully vaccinated, to wear masks in areas with surging case counts. This recommendation is specifically for parts of the country with “substantial or high transmission.”
“Both Richmond City and Henrico County are experiencing substantial community transmission,” the local health districts wrote in a release announcing the recommendation.
As of Friday, the CDC is reporting that nearly 70% of U.S. counties, including dozens in Virginia, have substantial or high transmission levels of infection.
State and local leaders do not have to implement 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.” But Dr. Melissa Viray, deputy director of Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, said the recommendation will help make it easier to follow the CDC’s guidance.
“We believe that this recommendation will make it easier to consistently follow CDC guidance,” Dr. Viray said in a statement. “Folks can just know to grab a mask when heading out the door without having to look up community transmission on public health dashboards.”