CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va -- One benefit of working at a music shop and school is that the music literally never stops. Emma Ford, who works at The Music Tree in Bon Air, said the store never stopped something else during the pandemic: requiring masks inside.
“All our teachers are vaccinated; all our staff has been vaccinated. A lot of our students have been vaccinated but we ask everyone to still wear masks because we have a lot of students who are underaged and we want to protect everyone,” Ford said.
On Tuesday, the CDC released new guidance asking fully vaccinated people to don a mask once again at indoor public settings if the transmission rate in their area is either “high” or “substantial.” You can track the CDC data here.
The average of new daily cases and percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive continue to climb as the highly transmissible delta variant continues to take hold and vaccine demand remains at stasis for the month of July.
Many businesses in Chesterfield who spoke to CBS 6 off-camera said they were not aware of the changes in CDC guidance. Most planned to continue with their current masking policies, which included leaving the decision to mask up to their customers.
Virginia health officials said they are reviewing the CDC recommendations but have not changed any state guidelines. Unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated Virginias should wear a mask to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, health officials said.
Tracking the CDC data over the past two days shows how the change in guidelines from the CDC could lead to some confusion for fully vaccinated Virginians. On Tuesday, Chesterfield was listed as “substantial” community spread, but downgraded to “moderate” by Wednesday, according to the CDC Data Tracker. Conversely, Hanover, Henrico and Richmond were all upgraded to “substantial” Wednesday.
“At this time, the Virginia Department of Health is analyzing the CDC's guidance. Virginia’s approach to COVID-19 has always been driven by 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,” VDH officials said in a statement to CBS 6.
“Until VDH evaluates the new CDC guidance regarding masking, all unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated Virginia residents are being asked to wear a mask to protect themselves and others who have not yet been vaccinated,” said Dr. Alexander Samuel, Director of the Chesterfield Health District.
Ford said a few fully vaccinated customers have questioned their masking policy to this point
“We’ve always said the same thing: look, there’s kids in here and now there’s rules,” she said.
As a training vocalist, Ford said singing through a mask can be a challenge but she does not expect The Music Tree to miss a beat with the revised CDC guidance.
“Honestly, at this point, I’m sure we’d all like to see if gone or done away with by now. It’s obviously not happening. At the least, I can just hope that people will respect other’s personal space and decisions to keep wearing masks,” she said.