JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Note: The video above is from a related report.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where COVID-19 rates are considered "areas of high transmission." The recommendation highlights the delta variant, which first appeared in India, and its ability to spread even among people who have been vaccinated.
The guidance may be causing some confusion for people who aren't sure whether their county, neighborhood or ZIP code falls under the classification of a high-transmission area. But, the CDC has provided a handy tool to clarify.
Does all of Florida fall under the CDC's recommendation for wearing masks as an "area of high transmission"?
- The CDC's COVID data tracker
- CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky
Yes, every county in Florida and all of the Southeast Georgia counties in our area are considered to have a high level of COVID-19 transmission.
WHAT WE FOUND
The CDC's COVID-19 data tracker offers a county-by-county view of transmission rates. The total new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days are used to calculate whether each county is considered "low transmission" (0-9.99), "moderate transmission" (10-49.99), "substantial transmission" (50-99.99) or "high transmission" (100 or higher). It also factors in the percentage of positive Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests during the past seven days by county.
If the two indicators suggest different transmission levels, the higher level is selected, the tracker says.
The current tracker map shows that every county in Florida is considered to be high transmission from Monday, July 19 through Sunday, July 25. Locally, that includes Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Union counties.
In Georgia, the majority of counties are categorized as high transmission areas, including local counties: Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Glynn, Pierce and Ware.
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The CDC is also recommending indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide for the upcoming school year, regardless of vaccination status. The only local county currently requiring masks when classes resume is Camden County.
While most new infections in the United States are among unvaccinated people, "breakthrough infections" which are typically milder can occur in people who have gotten the vaccine. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said earlier strains of the virus were not as easily spread by vaccinated people, but the delta variant shows "indistinguishable" levels of the virus in the noses and throats of those vaccinated or unvaccinated who are infected.
Vaccinated people "have the potential to spread that virus to others,” Walensky said.