102 KY counties should still wear masks indoors

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The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed its guidance for wearing masks to thwart the pandemic, but says infections and hospitalizations in most of Kentucky are so high that people in all but 18 of the state's 120 counties should continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

The new CDC system ranks the risk to each county as high, medium or low, based on new coronavirus infections, new Covid-19 hospital admissions, and the share of staffed hospital beds occupied by patients with the disease. That puts 102 Kentucky counties at high risk, invoking the masking guidance.

In the 18 counties ranked at medium risk, the CDC says residents who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness should talk to a health-care provider about “additional precautions, such as wearing masks or respirators indoors in public. If you live with or have social contact with someone at high risk for severe illness, consider testing yourself for infection before you get together and wearing a mask when indoors with them.”

The 18 Kentucky counties with medium risk are Fulton, Calloway, Todd, McLean, Warren, Green, Taylor, Adair, Russell, Cumberland, Clinton, Trimble, Gallatin, Owen, Pendleton, Bracken, Mason, and Fleming.

No Kentucky counties are in the low-risk category. In such counties, the CDC advises, “Wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.”

The CDC also advises, “You may choose to wear a mask or respirator that offers greater protection in certain situations, such as when you are with people at higher risk for severe illness, or if you are at higher risk for severe illness. It is important to wear a mask or respirator when you are sick or caring for someone who is sick with Covid-19. When caring for someone who is sick with Covid-19, a respirator will provide you the best level of protection.”

People more likely to become very sick with Covid-19 are those who are older or have certain medical conditions, or who are pregnant and have recently been pregnant. It says people at increased risk, and those who live with or visit them, should talk to a health-care provider about whether they and the people around them should wear a mask or respirator when the Covid-19 community level is medium.

For the CDC’s complete guidance, including recommendations for children, travelers and disabled people, click here.

The CDC’s recommendations are only that, but it has maintained its order that travelers wear masks while using public transportation and indoor transportation hubs. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Friday that he would force a vote in the Senate on his resolution to repeal that requirement.

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Cross-posted from Kentucky Health News.

Kentucky Health News

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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