The CDC has updated its mask recommendations for Virginians

Published 5:22 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2022

By Faith Redd

The City of Suffolk is one of 60 Virginia localities where the Centers for Disease Control is urging residents to mask up regardless of their vaccination status.

With a new surge in cases and rising numbers of people with COVID-19, Suffolk has reached a high community level for the coronavirus. There have been a total of 252 cases through July 25, based on the CDC’s seven-day rolling total. Of these, nine have resulted in new hospital admissions through July 24.

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It is suggested that people wear masks indoors in public and on public transportation, according to a CDC news release. Those who are at high risk due to severe illness are recommended to take additional precautions, such as avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

The U.S. has now reached a total of 90,227,956 cases and 1,022,349 deaths as a result of COVID-19. Virginia has tallied up 21,000 of those cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the CDC.

Dr. Lisa Thanjan, a member of the Health Information Team in the Office of Epidemiology at The Virginia Department of Health, said another surge in cases is underway in the state.

“We’re averaging well over 3,000 cases per day right now and we are at over 700 hospitalizations per day,” Thanjan said.

This disease is different due to its long term effects and the number of deaths and hospitalizations, according to Thanjan. There are several studies showing people having other health effects, ongoing disabilities or issues that really change their quality of life because of COVID-19.

“This is truly something different than other respiratory viruses,” she said.

Thanjan believes the Omicron variants have changed the situation because of their easier transmission. There’s been a “five-fold increase in hospitalizations” since April, she noted.

There was a large decrease in cases from winter through early April, according to Thanjan. Since early April, there has been a slow increase in cases as the new and more transmissible sub-variants of Omicron have emerged.

BA.4 and BA.5 are the most recent variants health officials have seen. BA.5 currently accounts for almost 80%, Thanjan said.

Suffolk is home to 49,756 fully vaccinated people, with 57,584 people who have received at least one dose. The CDC continues to recommend vaccinations and boosters to combat the rise of COVID-19 cases. Vaccine site locators can be found at www.vaccines.gov.

“Our communities are safest when we work together to protect everyone,” CDC officials stated in the news release.

Thanjan said the best thing people can do now to slow the spread is to stay up to date on boosters and go back to the prevention measures that they’ve learned over the past two years.

Every household in the U.S. is able to order up to four free individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests per residential address. There is a limit of three orders of four sets of tests per residential address. For more information visit https://www.covidtests.gov/.

“The reality is that COVID-19 is not going anywhere and as we can clearly see it’s not done with us,” said Thanjan.