Dane Co. could cross CDC’s mask guidance threshold Friday

On Tuesday, PHMDC began recommending nearly everyone wear masks during indoor gatherings, regardless of vaccination status.
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:52 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 3:44 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The surging number of new COVID-19 cases in Madison and Dane Co. means the county could eclipse the threshold in which federal health officials recommend nearly everyone – vaccinated or not – wear a mask when indoors with people not in their household.

Dane Co. could cross into the “substantial” COVID-19 transmission rate category, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as soon as Friday, Public Health Madison and Dane Co. Data Team Lead Katarina Grande explained during the Mayor’s weekly press briefing.

“We’re currently facing another pivotal moment in the COVID-19 pandemic response,” she said. “The Delta variant is spreading quickly in our community as well as across the state and country. As a result, case counts are trending upward, including in Dane County.”

During the briefing, Grande detailed the rising rate in the county, showing how two weeks ago the seven-day rolling average for new cases stood at approximately 10 cases per day. Since then, that figure has ballooned to nearly 37 cases per day.

“We are at the high, high end moderate levels of transmission, but cases are climbing quickly and we will likely be in CDC’s substantial category tomorrow (Friday),” she said.

The revised CDC guidance issued Tuesday recommended everyone over the age of two wear a mask when they are at indoor public places or at an indoor private gatherings in counties where the transmission rate is considered ‘substantial’ or ‘high.’

Despite still being considered as having a moderate transmission rate, according to the CDC’s standards, PHMDC officials did not wait long after the new guidelines were issued earlier this week to urge people in the county to begin masking up again, regardless if they were vaccinated.

At the time – and up to now – Dane Co. fell short of those classifications, but that may not be the case much longer. An interactive map on the agency’s website shows where each county ranks.

According to Grande, the county would breach the “substantial” category when its rolling average topped 39 cases per day, less than two more cases per day than it is now.

The agency put out its revised guidance, which included separate recommendations for schools, within hours of the federal revisions and a day before the state Dept. of Health Services made its changes. On Thursday, Grande echoed that sentiment, this time with a greater sense of urgency.

Grande did not say if PHMDC would make any further changes if (or when) the county’s case transmission level becomes “substantial.”

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