Ready to ditch your mask and mingle? Think again

Floyd County remains a high-risk area where CDC still recommends wearing masks and practice social distancing It also means most around here will ignore them.

In the United States, new COVID-19 cases are dropping by 63%, averaging 68,642 a day. Even better, new deaths are dropping by 23%, down to 1,896 daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

New CDC recommendations as about 70% of us can stop wearing masks, learn to live with the virus, and return to some semblance of “normal life.”

CDC says counties should consider three measures to assess the risk of the virus; new Covid-related hospital admissions over the previous week, the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients, and the rate of new cases per 100,000 over the previous week.

“We’re well past the surge,” says Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech. “We don’t need to be operating in emergency mod anymore.”

Many parts of the nation have already stopped pandemic restrictions and eased rules on mask mandates more for political expediency than safety and health. Virginia schools no longer have mask mandates. Others may now use the CDC guidelines to do the same.

But wait. The CDC says about 70% of the nation’s communities can go maskless and hang out in the crowd, but Floyd County is not one of them.

The CDC lists Floyd County as “high risk,” which means:

The Virginia Department of Health says less than 40% of adults in our county is fully vaccinated, including booster shots. That leaves more than half of the county adults vulnerable, along with too many children.

Much of Southwestern Virginia remain at high-level risks. Yet their students attend class without masks, cheer their sports teams crammed into bleacher seats without masks or social distancing.

Floyd County used to have only one or two new infections a week. It had up to 19 on one day this week and ended the week with six new cases for a total of 2,474. When you factor in the rate per 100,000, Floyd County’s infections stand at 15,681. The 42 actual deaths would be 266.

So, go ahead. Ditch your mask. Mingle. Some consider such reckless behavior Russian Roulette. Others call t thinning the herd. The best word is simple and direct: Stupid.

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