Coronavirus - web only

LAWRENCE — Van Buren and Cass County health officials announced Wednesday they are recommending mask wearing for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while indoors in public.

Both Cass and Van Buren counties are in a level of substantial community transmission for COVID-19, with 38 cases and a 6.4 percent positivity rate in Van Buren County and 28 cases and a 6.6 percent positivity rate in Cass County from July 18-24, according to a news release from the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department.

“We share in the frustration brought on by the length of this pandemic and the changing recommendations and requirements,” Danielle Persky, VBCDHD health officer, said in the news release. “While we are still learning about this virus and the new, more serious variants, what we do know is that the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is our best defense against the virus. We encourage county and community leaders, businesses and schools to join us in urging all residents to get the vaccine as soon as possible.”

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their recommendations for mask wearing.

To maximize protection from the delta variant and prevent the possibility of spreading it to others, the CDC recommends everyone – including fully vaccinated individuals – wear a mask indoors in public if in an area of substantial or high transmission.

Berrien County officials had not yet taken a stance on the topic as of Wednesday afternoon. Berrien County had a 4.7 percent positivity rate as of Monday, according to state data.

Given new evidence, the CDC is also recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, indicating that children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

“The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the VBCDHD support the new CDC recommendations and encourage schools and businesses to consider the latest recommendations when determining mitigation strategies for your building(s),” Persky said.

The VBCDHD will soon launch a transmission matrix to help businesses and school leaders, which will display where local infection data intersects with suggested minimal mitigation efforts by the CDC and MDHHS.

For more information, visit www.vbcassdhd.org/covid-19.

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman