Pierce County Public Health urged the public to mask indoors, issuing an alert Friday morning that COVID-19 infections are resurging and western Wisconsin is at risk.
This is because the Delta variant is two to three times more infectious than the original strain and produces a 10 times higher viral load, Pierce County Health Director and Health Officer AZ Snyder said.
“We are all frustrated to be at a point where even vaccinated people need to wear a mask. It’s not fair that people did the right thing and have to mask anyway. However, if you are one of those unlucky breakthrough cases, you can transmit the virus to others. This is because the Delta variant is two to three times more infectious than the wild strain and produces a 10 times higher viral load,” Snyder said.
Pierce County reports 2.1% of infections here since January have been fully vaccinated people.
“Vaccines are working great at preventing hospitalization and deaths,” Snyder said.
Pierce County Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Wisconsin Department of Health all recommend universal masking for everyone aged 2 years and over in K-12 schools, child care and health care settings. This means even fully vaccinated people.
“If I was sending a little one to school this year, I’d be sending them with a mask -- no question,” Snyder said.
All Pierce County schools have received recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and public health agencies to require masks of students and staff.
Some school boards, including Ellsworth's have chosen not to comply.
“Individual family choice is fine when someone’s decisions only impact themselves. That’s not the case here. Masks work best when everyone’s wearing them,” Snyder said.
"If we can get disease levels in our communities back down, vaccinated people won’t need to mask in most settings anymore. For a county of our size, Pierce County will be classified as 'substantial' if we receive more than 21 cases over a seven-day period. For high transmission, it would be over 42 cases a week. The graphic below demonstrates the mask recommendations dependent on community spread.