RICHMOND, Va. — On the heels of new guidance from the CDC, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is encouraging commonwealth residents to mask up again, regardless of vaccination status. Unlike his counterpart in D.C., Northam did not go as far as mandating masks indoors.
"All Virginians should consider wearing a mask in public indoor settings where there is increased risk of COVID-19 transmission, as the new [CDC] guidance recommends," Northam tweeted Thursday. "This is not a requirement, but a recommendation."
The governor went on to acknowledge that since January, 98% of COVID hospitalizations and deaths have been among unvaccinated Virginians.
"Masks are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19, but getting vaccinated is the surest way we can bring this pandemic to an end," Northam said. "All three vaccines are safe, effective, and free."
According to the Virginia Department of Health, 53.8% of Virginia residents are fully vaccinated. Northam said that the state reporter more than 1,100 new cases Thursday, whereas data showed less than 200 new cases per day a month ago.
Northam's tweet came around the same time D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that masks would once again be mandatory indoors everywhere in the District starting Saturday, falling in line with CDC guidance.
The CDC's new mask recommendation urges vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas that have substantial or high community transmission of COVID-19. Areas where there are more than 50 cases per 100,000 people, over the course of 7 days, are considered to have "substantial transmission" of COVID-19; Regions with more than 100 cases per 100,000 over 7 days are classified as "high transmission."
D.C. and parts of Northern Virginia were elevated to "substantial" or "high" transmission status, while the entire state of Maryland remains in the "moderate" range.
You can see the CDC's full county spread map here.
Here's a list of DMV counties that fall under the CDC's recommended mask-wearing category:
- District: Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday that everyone ages 2 and older must wear masks indoors starting Saturday.
- Frederick County
- Loudoun County
- Orange County (high)
- Page County (high)
- Rappahannock County
- Spotsylvania County (high)
- Stafford County
- Warren County (high)
- Berkley County
- Morgan County (high)