Yates enters 'high transmission' stage for COVID
YATES COUNTY--As of Tuesday, Sept. 7, Yates County went into the high transmission or red category for COVID-19. County Health Director Annmarie Flanagan made the announcement during a special legislative session but said she couldn't be sure if it was the Delta variant or not.
"So we do have widespread disease throughout the community at this time," said Flanagan. "We do not know if it is delta or (traditional COVID)."
As of Tuesday morning alone, Flanagan said that there have been 19 new cases from the three-day weekend with 15 more cases being investigated. Currently, there are 38 active cases, with at least nine of those individuals vaccinated and one hospitalization.
"We have a significant amount of people in isolation and quarantine," Flanagan mentioned.
Part of the sudden increase is due to the presence of multiple clusters throughout the county.
"Three are related to a daycare, four are related to a wedding," Flanagan said.
As a result of the high transmission level, combined with recent OSHA recommendations that high transmission areas should require masks, the board voted 8-2 to institute a mask requirement in county buildings. The mandate is still subject to review by the county attorney and must be reviewed for change on a weekly basis.
Legislator Carlie Chilson, who was one of the no votes, registered her dislike of mask mandates and said it does not reflect the will of constituents she spoke to.
"A recommendation is not a mandate," said Chilson.
Chair Douglas Paddock replied that most of the emails he has received from constituents have been in favor of a mask mandate and at the end of the meeting added that during the public comment session 11 spoke in favor and five against the mask mandate.
Regarding the science around masking, Flanagan said it is concrete and the political discourse surrounding masking has been incredibly destructive to fighting COVID.
"Politics have come into the whole piece with this pandemic, and politics have no place in science," said Flanagan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says "if you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places." Additionally, "if you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission."
In a summary of data on mask effectiveness, the CDC notes "masks are primarily intended to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets ("source control"), which is especially relevant for asymptomatic or presymptomatic infected wearers who feel well and may be unaware of their infectiousness to others, and who are estimated to account for more than 50 percent of transmissions. Masks also help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer ("filtration for wearer protection"). The community benefit of masking for SARS-CoV-2 control is due to the combination of these effects; individual prevention benefit increases with increasing numbers of people using masks consistently and correctly." The full study is available here: https://tinyurl.com/h4mhk4ru.
Some of those in attendance who chose to speak against the mandate stated there was proof that masking was ineffective or equated the use of the pandemic to control the lives of American citizens. Another questioned how many illegal immigrants were in Yates County deliberately placed there.