Experts suggest some caution ahead of holiday weekend

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 4:29 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville and Albemarle County have high coronavirus vaccination rates, but as the Fourth of July approaches and the Delta variant surges, experts say you may want to keep your mask handy.

“We’re in this weird spot where we have a large number of people who have been vaccinated in our immediate area, but not everyone,” UVA Medical Center Dr. Taison Bell said.

While the CDC says those who are fully vaccinated don’t need to wear a mask, Dr. Bell says there are situations where people should consider masking up.

“I would say for those particularly... large gatherings that are indoors, these are still situations where I would consider trying to do whatever I can to try to prevent this spread regardless of whether I’m vaccinated or not,” Bell said. “Those might be situations where I might want to put a mask on.”

Bell says that if you are planning on celebrating outdoors this presents a very low risk for spreading COVID-19.

“Outdoors is better than indoors, smaller is better than larger. If you are going to be somewhere that people are going to be singing and doing things that could potentially spread droplets, then maybe a little bit more distance would be good,” Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Infection Preventionist Andrea Chapman said.

While mask restrictions have mostly been lifted, the WHO has changed its guidance. With the surge of the Delta variant it says people should still be wearing masks indoors, but Bell says this conflicting guidance has to do with coverage.

“In situations like that it really emphasizes the point that we have a two-tiered pandemic where countries like the United States and Europe, we have good vaccination access, we have lower case counts. But it’s very different in the countries like in sub-Saharan Africa, where you have less than 2% of people vaccinated,” Bell said.

The CDC does not plan to change its guidance as many states have high vaccination rates.

“We are seeing that vaccination coverage across our health district is pretty good, it’s highest in Albemarle, but lower in places like Fluvanna and Louisa,” Chapman said.

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