CDC relaxes mask guidelines, but not for most of Kentucky

On Friday, the CDC released long-awaited updates to mask guidelines. The new metrics use more than just the number of new cases. This new formula looks at the number of cases that require hospitalization and how many hospital beds are currently available

The good news is that most of the United States, about 70% of the population, can take off masks indoors. If you live in a medium-risk area, they recommend you speak to your doctor to see if you should wear a mask indoors.

The bad news for Kentucky is that most of the state, including the Laurel, Knox, Whitley Tri-County area, is not in the low to medium category. According to CDC guidelines, the residents in all but 18 counties in Kentucky are still expected to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

“The updated metrics in this framework provide a current picture of COVID 19 disease in a community,” Dr. Greta Massetti from the COVID-19 Incident Management Team said in a teleconference Friday. “They also include strong predictors of the potential for strain on the healthcare system. A community’s COVID 19 level is determined by a combination of three pieces of information: new hospitalizations for COVID 19, current hospital beds occupied by COVID 19 patients or hospital capacity, and new COVID 19 cases.

"We should all keep in mind that some people may choose to wear a mask at any time based on personal preference. And importantly, people who wear high-quality masks are well protected, even if others around you are not masking. And there are some situations where people should always wear a mask."

The CDC provides a web portal for looking at local guidance:

The state of Kentucky also offers a website to where counties are at in the severity scale:

Overall, in the US, the average vaccination rate for COVID-19 is 65.1%. In Kentucky, that rate drops to 56.4%.

The current reported full vaccination rate in Laurel County is 40.39%, Knox County is 35.65%, and Whitley County is 43.86%. All three counties meet the CDC guidelines for needing to wear masks indoors because of the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 that might require hospitalization, thus putting additional strain on the local healthcare system.

Bob Peryea

National Correspondent

The Kentucky Daily

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