Gov. Northam reviewing CDC mask guidelines, expected to release recommendations
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam says his team is reviewing the mask-wearing guidelines released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday. This recommendation says fully people vaccinated should wear a mask indoors in localities with high and substantial rates of COVID-19 community transmission.
The CDC also recommended universal mask-wearing for teachers, students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status.
On Wednesday, Northam said his team is reviewing the CDC’s updated mask-wearing guidance for schools.
“We’re studying this and looking at the CDC guidelines,” Northam said. “One of the things that I feel I have a responsibility for, and as you know, we’ve given accurate and up-to-date information as best we can to keep all Virginians safe.”
One week ago, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education released their own mask-wearing guidance. This allows PreK-12 schools in the state to make their own decisions on mask mandates based on local COVID-19 data.
Since the release of this guidance, Richmond Public Schools and Hopewell City Public Schools made masks mandatory in the classroom for all staff and students to wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status.
Powhatan County Public Schools is making masks optional. In an email sent to NBC12 by a parent, Henrico County Public Schools is also moving forward with this option, saying “we respect that mask-wearing is currently an individual’s choice” in a letter sent to parents.
When asked if there’s a chance Virginians could see a statewide universal indoor mask mandate or leaving this option to localities, Northam said they’re “looking at those options.”
“Those CDC guidelines just came out yesterday,” he said. “We want Virginians to be safe. We want to get this pandemic behind us.”
According to CDC’s online COVID data tracker, 49 percent of counties in the United States fall under a high transmission rate.
New Kent, Prince George, and King William counties are currently facing this rate of community transmission.
The rest of the Richmond area falls between moderate and substantial rates of transmission. Currently, Richmond and Henrico fall under substantial, while Chesterfield County is experiencing moderate transmission.
Northam is encouraging unvaccinated Virginians to roll up their sleeve and get the shot.
“We’re going to continue to have variants and this virus will continue to smolder unless we all become part of the solution and get vaccinated,” Northam said.
Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.
Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.