CCHD recommending masks, no mandates expected

The Cascade County City-County Health Department said this week that its following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that even vaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors due to the increase in the Delta variant which is highly transmissible.

Several readers asked The Electric about the likelihood of local mask mandates, so we checked, but it’s unlikely there will be any local COVID-19 health restrictions in the near future.

Trisha Gardner, county health officer, said that a number of steps would have to occur before a local order could be implemented.

Cascade county adds 114 COVID cases over last week; variants increasing

Gardner said under the new laws approved this year at the Legislature, the governor would need to declare a new state of emergency and he’d have to issue state mandates for COVID restrictions since the new laws don’t allow local regulations to be stricter than the state’s.

If all of those things happened, the county health board could adopt rules that remain in place unless the local governing body, for now the County Commission, holds a public hearing to amend or rescind those rules.

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Right now, the CCHD is recommending that people follow the CDC guidelines that were released this week on masking indoors and in large outdoor gatherings.

“We’re having an increase in cases,” Gardner said.

The increase is mostly due to the Delta variant, she said, and “we can, with a high degree of certainty, say that most of these new cases are probably the delta variant.”

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She said that most of the new cases are among the unvaccinated but there have been some breakthrough cases.

As of July 28, the county had added 114 new cases in a week and of those, 90.35 percent of the new cases this week were unvaccinated individuals.

The county started tracking reinfections about three weeks ago, according to CCHD, and since then, they’ve confirmed four unvaccinated reinfections.

“We aren’t able to catch them all, since not everyone informs us that they had been infected previously,” Ben Spencer of CCHD told The Electric.

The county added another 33 cases on July 29 and 31 more cases on July 30, according to the state dashboard.

Gardner said that with the breakthrough cases, which are those who were fully vaccinated and contracted COVID, they’re seeing a level of protection and those aren’t as sick and are less likely to be hospitalized or die.

“It’s still advantageous to get vaccinated,” she said.