×

Are we headed back to a pandemic lockdown?

The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism offers posters for businesses to promote COVID-19 guidelines. (Artwork provided — ROOST)

New mask mandates at village, town and county offices are an inconvenient, yet necessary, reminder that the pandemic is not over and that COVID-19 still poses a threat to public health.

It’s no secret that the best way to combat the virus is to get as many eligible people vaccinated as possible. Many are still resisting.

Following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, municipal officials are now requiring that all employees and visitors to their offices wear masks, no matter their vaccination status.

For those people who did everything right — including getting vaccinated — it’s like a punch in the gut. After months of mask freedom, it seems like they’re being punished somehow.

The delta variant is hitting the unvaccinated population especially hard, and the pandemic is reaching crisis levels again in many parts of the country. We may be headed back to working from home, distance learning, virtual meetings, canceled public events and lockdowns if we don’t get this under control. We’re already seeing hints of this, starting with mask mandates and canceled events.

As of July 27, the CDC issued new guidance based on the rise of delta variant cases, including the following:

– Fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.

– Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.

– Fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested three to five days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

– There should be universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

– Fully vaccinated people should get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Everyone must do their part to keep themselves and others safe so we can start enjoying our freedoms again. Until then, it may be another long winter.