Indoor Masking Needed in Almost 70% of US Counties: CDC Data

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Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

In announcing new guidance on Tuesday, the CDC said vaccinated people should wear face masks in indoor public places with “high” or “substantial” community transmission rates of COVID-19.

Data from the CDC shows that designation covers 69.3% of all counties in the United States — 52.2% (1,680 counties) with high community transmission rates and 17.1% (551 counties) with substantial rates.

A county has “high transmission” if it reports 100 or more weekly cases per 100,000 residents or a 10% or higher test positivity rate in the last 7 days, the CDC says. “Substantial transmission” means a county reports 50 to 99 weekly cases per 100,000 residents or has a positivity rate between 8% and 9.9% in the last 7 days.

About 23% of U.S. counties had moderate rates of community transmission, and 7.67% had low rates.

To find out the transmission rate in your county, go to the CDC COVID data tracker.

Smithsonian Requiring Masks Again

The Smithsonian now requires all visitors over age 2, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face masks indoors and in all museum spaces.

The Smithsonian said in a news release that fully vaccinated visitors won’t have to wear masks at the National Zoo or outdoor gardens for museums.

The new rule goes into effect Friday. It reverses a rule that said fully vaccinated visitors didn’t have to wear masks indoors beginning June 28.

Indoor face masks will be required throughout the District of Columbia beginning Saturday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said earlier this week.

House Republicans Protest Face Mask Policy

About 40 mask-less Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives filed onto the Senate floor on Thursday to protest a new rule requiring House members to wear face masks, The Hill reported.

Congress’s attending doctor said in a memo this week that the 435 members of the House, plus workers, must wear masks indoors, but not the 100 members of the Senate. The Senate is a smaller body and has had better mask compliance than the House.

Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, told The Hill that Republicans wanted to show “what it was like on the floor of the Senate versus the floor of the House. Obviously, it’s vastly different.”

Among the group of Republicans who filed onto the Senate floor were Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Chip Roy and Louie Gohmert of Texas, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Warren Davidson of Ohio, and Andy Biggs of Arizona.

Sources:

CDC. “COVID-19 Integrated County View.”

Smithsonian: “Smithsonian to Require all Visitors to Wear Masks Indoors.”

The Hill: “House GOP stages mask mandate protest.”

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