Douglas County Public Health Order Expires; COVID Safety Precautions Still Strongly Encouraged | News, Sports, Jobs
photo by: Mike Yoder
The local public health ordinance that requires masks for children aged 2 to 11 will expire on December 22, but health workers say it is not time for residents to lower their guard, noting that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the county is experiencing high transmission of COVID-19.
On Thursday, LMH Health announced it had opened a COVID unit at the hospital due to the rise in coronavirus cases in the county.
Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health reported on Friday that the 14-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases in Douglas County was near 36; that’s an increase of about 22, or about 63%, from a report last week. Between Monday and Wednesday alone, 120 new cases were reported in the county, and between Wednesday and Friday, 85 more cases were reported.
Douglas County Unified Command leaders and public health officials strongly urge COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masks in crowded places as the holidays approach and increase in cases and hospitalizations in Douglas County, the county said in a press release Friday.
“Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic is not over and COVID is something we will have to live with to move forward,” said Dr Thomas Marcellino, local health worker. “The best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, including a booster shot. Revolutionary infections are occurring, but the vaccine will reduce the risk of serious illness and death. “
Marcellino and Dr Jennifer Schrimsher, local health worker and infectious disease physician at LMH Health, recommend following these public health guidelines:
• Get vaccinated. Anyone aged 5 and over is eligible for vaccination, and vaccines are widely available at pharmacies and health clinics.
• Get a booster dose. All fully vaccinated people aged 16 and over are eligible for COVID boosters if six months after completing the Moderna or Pfizer vaccination series or two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccination.
• Have it tested. COVID Self-Tests can protect you and others by reducing the chances of the virus spreading. You can use self-tests whether or not you have symptoms. The CDC recommends testing before joining indoor gatherings with other people who are not in your household. If you have symptoms of COVID, contact a health care provider. Symptoms include: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
• Wear a face cover indoors or in crowded spaces. The CDC recommends that anyone 2 years of age and older who is not fully immunized wear a mask in indoor public places. If you are fully vaccinated, to maximize your protection and avoid possibly spreading COVID to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of high or high transmission. According to the CDC, Douglas County experiences high transmission.
“People should be masked if they are in indoor public spaces or crowded outdoor spaces, especially with the increase in COVID cases and the upcoming holidays,” Schrimsher said. “I think a good rule of thumb is to be aware of who you are and who you will be in the future. Even if you are not at high risk, there is probably someone in one of your circles who is. We have to take care of each other. “
Marcellino said: “It is up to each individual in our community to assess their risk and take smart and safe precautions.”
As the local public health order expires on December 22, school districts, universities, businesses and other entities can set their own policies regarding protective measures against COVID-19. The Douglas County Unified Command, which is facilitated by Douglas County Emergency Management, continues to meet regularly to assist with response and recovery efforts. If necessary in the future to protect the health and safety of the Douglas County community, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health may issue a local health order.
“The masks work and the vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illness and death,” Schrimsher said. “These are two cornerstones for ensuring the safety of our loved ones and the community as a whole. “
For local COVID information and resources, visit: douglascountyks.org/coronavirus.