Monroe County officials are now recommending that all residents wear face masks in all public indoor facilities in light of the news released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday. The CDC says the county now has ‘substantial’ transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
This is in line with the CDC recommendation that people who live in counties that are in the ‘substantial’ category wear masks indoors in public locations whether they have been fully vaccinated or not.
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza have also announced that all Monroe County employees will be required to wear face masks or face coverings in public and common areas of all county-operated facilities, effective Tue., Aug. 3.
“We’re seeing a surge of daily new positive COVID-19 cases in Monroe County and in many other communities across the state. While we know the vaccine is effective, we also know that the Delta variant is more contagious than previous strains of the virus,” said Bello in a county-issued statement. “As we continue to follow CDC guidance, and in order to slow spread, we’re strongly recommending all Monroe County residents wear a face mask when indoors, where we know the virus spreads even greater.”
“As this pandemic continues to evolve, we must apply what we have learned so far. The vaccines are proven to be highly effective, even against the Delta variant, in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death,” added Mendoza. “However, an additional layer of protection will help keep the virus from spreading, especially among our most vulnerable populations including the unvaccinated and immunocompromised. Masks are a proven tool that can help us contain the current surge and protect everyone in our community.”
Employees of Monroe Community Hospital, the Monroe County Department of Public Health, Rochester Regional Health, URMC, the University of Rochester and UR Medicine affiliates will need to be vaccinated by Wednesday, Sept. 8, or undergo frequent regular COVID testing. That directive was released on Monday by Bello, Mendoza and leaders of the two health care systems.
According to the CDC, areas with substantial transmission record are those with 50 to 100 cases per 100,000 people, or a positivity rate between 8% and 10%. As of Aug. 1, the CDC data reported Monroe County’s rate at 50.02 cases per 100,000 people.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said that with the alarming spread of the COVID-19 delta variant in New York state, he is extending a mandatory vaccination policy for state workers and employees of state-run hospitals. He also urged nursing homes and schools also require mandatory vaccines for employees.
While Cuomo extended the vaccine mandate to the 50,000 or so employees of the state-run mass transit system in New York City, he no longer has the power to impose similar policies on anyone not directly employed by the state of New York. The governor ended the pandemic state of emergency in June, and now can only recommend that private businesses and local governments adopt similar rules. The governor warned, though, that if the virus continues to increase, then he’ll consider declaring a new state of emergency.
As of Monday, the CDC also added Ontario and Wayne to the list of counties with 'substantial' community transmission of COVID-19.
On Monday, Monroe County reported there were 52 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. There were 385 new cases reported since Monday, July 26. The 7-day rolling average of new cases is 55 new cases per day.
This story includes reporting by WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief Karen DeWitt