BARRON COUNTY -- We are learning more about COVID-19 all the time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looks at the latest available information to make the best science-based recommendations. Because of new information on the Delta variant, the CDC has updated the guidance on wearing masks. The new guidance says that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear masks in places that are experiencing “substantial” or “high” levels of community transmission. The map that shows these areas can be found here.
Barron County is currently experiencing “substantial” levels of community transmission. At this time Barron County Public Health advises all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, should wear masks when in public.
Viruses constantly change through a process called mutation. Slightly different forms of a virus are called variants. Delta is a variant, and it’s caused more than 80% of recent COVID-19 cases in the United States. Delta spreads more easily than other variants. COVID-19 cases have increased over 300% nationally from June 19 to July 23, 2021, because of the Delta variant. The best way to stop the spread is to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccines prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and are effective against the Delta variant. Having most people in your area vaccinated will reduce spread of the virus in your community and help prevent new variants from emerging.
CDC is constantly looking at new data and evidence on the Delta variant. This update in guidance is based on recent evidence both here in the United States and in other countries. It shows a small number of fully vaccinated people may be infected with Delta and may infect others. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates. Most vaccinated people are protected from the virus. Evidence shows that vaccinated people can get Delta in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious. However, breakthrough cases are being seen in a small number of vaccinated people and the large majority are avoiding serious illness, hospitalization, or death. Because the Delta variant spreads much more easily, the CDC now recommends the following.
- To reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission. The map that shows these areas can be found here.
- Fully vaccinated people may choose to wear a mask anytime, especially if they have a weakened immune system or are at increased risk for severe disease, or if a member of their household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is not vaccinated.
- Fully vaccinated people who have been around someone who has COVID-19, should get tested 3-5 days after the exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms. They should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until they get a negative test result. They should isolate for 10 days if the test result is positive.
- CDC recommends indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, whether or not they are vaccinated. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with multiple prevention strategies in place, including masks.
Getting vaccinated is the most important thing you can do to end the COVID-19 pandemic. But some people may still need to take steps to protect themselves against COVID-19, such as children who are too young to be vaccinated or people with weakened immune systems.
In addition to wearing masks indoors in public, here are some other steps to help protect those most at risk.
- Choose safer activities, like those outdoors
- Stay 6 feet apart from people who don’t live in your home
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
- Wash your hands often
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Clean and disinfect surfaces often
Barron County Public Health offers free Pfizer vaccines for those 12 and older and Johnson and Johnson vaccines for those 18 and older. Vaccines are available Monday-Friday at the Government Center in Barron. Call 715-537-5691, extension 6442 for more information. You can also call your doctor or clinic to schedule an appointment for your vaccine. Many pharmacies in the area are also offering free vaccines including Walgreens and Walmart in Rice Lake and CVS in Barron. All COVID-19 vaccines are completely free of charge with no insurance needed. To find a vaccine near you visit here.
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Health or the CDC vaccine websites.