Northern Virginia health directors issue joint recommendation on indoor mask-wearing

The professionals who oversee all five Northern Virginia health jurisdictions agree that indoor mask-wearing should resume regardless of vaccination status.

In a joint letter to local leaders, the directors also said masks should be worn “in government and other public settings,” and they said their interim recommendations clarify “what applies to the fully vaccinated against COVID‐19 and the not fully vaccinated.”

The letter comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask-wearing guidance last week.

Two days later, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam advised that all residents “should consider wearing a mask in public indoor settings where there is an increased risk of COVID‐19 transmission.”

Health leaders in the City of Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties are sounding the alarm bell on that front.

“Currently all Northern Virginia jurisdictions are experiencing substantial disease transmissions and are trending upwards in their average number of daily cases,” the health directors said in their letter, dated Aug. 3.

The leaders also recommend additional mitigation measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which is surging across the country thanks in part due to the highly contagious delta variant.

They include testing if experiencing symptoms, isolation after testing positive, and even guidance for the vaccinated if exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

The vaccinated should get a test three to five days after exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days, or until the person receives a negative test result.

“We also encourage continued efforts to further improve vaccination rates and efforts to maintain other mitigation measures to address this increased disease burden on our community,” they added.

The letter also indicates that the health directors “will continue to evaluate new information on COVID‐19 to adjust our recommendations as needed to ensure our residents and our region continue to thrive.”

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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