Much of the valley is at ‘low’ or ‘medium’ transmission risk, CDC says

AUGUSTA HEALTH, Va. (WHSV) – New CDC and VDH masking guidelines combine used hospital beds, hospital admissions and current COVID-19 cases to decide whether community risk of transmission is low, medium or high .

Experts say these new guidelines should make it easier to understand where it’s safe to go without a mask.

“They’re using a seven-day moving average to smooth things out so we’re not swinging all over the place with high and then low and different rates on different days,” said Dr. Kyle Enfield of UVA Health.

Enfield said the new guidelines will give us “a summary of all the data, rather than using a single number.”

Although the data is easier to understand, another push can quickly jump a community’s levels.

“You might perceive situations where that might change, so another omicron push, where we have a lot of people getting sick very quickly, hospital beds are going up very quickly, you might see a place going from bottom to top very quickly because of that. But hopefully what we would see is that these transitions would happen very slowly and communities across the country would be able to respond sooner,” he said.

Many are eager for the chance to safely go mask-free, but others are confused by the change. Experts say the change comes because many are immune to COVID-19 due to previous infection or vaccination.

“I think what the CDC and VDH are really trying to do is give people tools to make informed decisions for themselves. They can go to the CDC webpage or the VDH website and say “the risk in my community is low, medium, or high,” Enfield said.

For areas with low transmission, wearing a mask is one choice, but the CDC says it’s safe to do without. For areas with medium transmission, you should talk to your doctor about your risk factors. In areas of high transmission, it is recommended to wear a mask.

Much of the valley is at low to medium levels of transmission. To find out what level your community is at, click here.

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