RICHMOND, Va. -- On Tuesday, the CDC updated their mask recommendations in areas that are considered high risk. How will this new guidance affect your day-to-day life?
The adjusted guidance states that people should wear masks in indoor public spaces in communities with substantial or high transmission rates. The CDC said that new data about the delta variant is what is behind the change in recommendations.
The CDC director said while this is still the pandemic of the unvaccinated, new studies show that in the rare cases of a vaccinated person getting infected, they have the same level of the virus in their system as someone who is unvaccinated and could spread the virus.
As of Tuesday, in Metro Richmond-area, according to the CDC's website tracking transmission rates, the counties of Prince George, New Kent, and King William all have "high" levels of community transmission.
Meanwhile, the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover County, Charles City, Dinwiddie, Nottoway, and Amerlia have "substantial" levels of community transmission.
The counties of Henrico, Powhatan, and Goochland plus the cities of Richmond and Petersburg would not fall under these guidelines as they have "moderate" levels of community transmission.
However, data from the CDC's website tracking transmission rates changed again on Wednesday, flagging new counties as ones with substantial or high levels of transmission.
In addition, the CDC said they are reversing guidance on masks in schools from earlier this month and say masks should be required for everyone in K-12 schools, regardless of their vaccination status. Previously they had only recommended masks for all in elementary schools and only for those who were unvaccinated in middle and high schools.
Last week, both Richmond and Hopewell Public Schools said they would stick with a masks-for-all rule. Other school districts said they were reviewing their policies.
Powhatan County Public Schools shared a statement with families on Tuesday evening stating that masks will be optional for students and staff members. However, all students and staff will be required to wear masks while on any kind of school vehicle.
On Tuesday, Henrico County Public Schools sent out a newsletter to families indicating that they strongly encourage mask-wearing but would leave it up to personal choice, going lower than state recommendations to at least require them in elementary schools.
CBS 6 has reached out to HCPS to see if they would reconsider their guidelines in light of the new CDC guidance.
CBS6 also reached out to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office and the Virginia Department of Health prior to the announcement from the CDC. Both provided written statements.
"The Virginia Department of Health will analyze the CDC's guidance once it is released. Virginia's approach to COVID-19 has always been driven by the science, and we continue to emphasize that the only way out of this pandemic is through vaccination. If you haven't gotten your vaccine yet, do so now: It's easy to book an appointment through Vaccinate.Virginia.gov [vaccinate.virginia.gov] and Vaccines.gov, and it's free," wrote a VDH spokesperson.
"As always, we will thoroughly review these recommendations when they are released. The Governor has taken a nuanced and data-driven approach throughout this pandemic—which is why Virginia has among the nation’s lowest total COVID-19 cases and death rates," wrote Northam's spokesperson. "As he has said repeatedly, the only way to end this pandemic is for everyone to get vaccinated. The facts show vaccines are highly effective at protecting Virginians from this serious virus — over 98% of hospitalizations and over 99% of deaths have been among unvaccinated Virginians."