RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across Central Virginia, health officials are recommending indoor masking for areas experiencing high community levels of COVID-19, including the region of Richmond.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID data tracker, Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, New Kent and Goochland fall under high community levels of COVID-19. Prince George, Powhatan, Amelia and Louisa are below medium levels, while Petersburg and Dinwiddie are below low levels.
Health officials say these levels are determined by looking at hospital beds used for COVID-19, hospital admissions and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.
Cat Long of Richmond-Henrico Health Districts said Omicron and its subvariants are the reason we’re seeing cases spike.
“It’s easier to spread from person to person, but tends to have less severe disease,” Long said. “Even if it causes less severe disease, the fact that more people can catch it because it’s more transmissible, that may still have implications for high hospitalizations and hospital load.”
For those who live, work or visit these high-profile areas, health officials recommend wearing a mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status. Long also recommends staying up to date with your vaccines, getting your boosters if you’re eligible, and getting tested if you start showing symptoms.
“We encourage people to improve ventilation in indoor spaces,” Long said.
If you’re planning to travel to an area with a high community level of COVID-19 for Memorial Day, Long recommends people do some outdoor activities.
The high levels of the COVID-19 community come months after masking restrictions began to ease with low case numbers.
Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, Philly Vegan in Richmond has kept its COVID-19 protocols in place, including indoor masking, to protect its employees and customers.
“This is a precautionary method that we can use to ensure that our staff, our community, are as safe as possible,” he said.
With the increase in COVID-19 cases, Long also said Richmond-Henrico Health Districts will increase the availability of free COVID-19 PCR testing events.
“We’re going to make sure we still have a lot of capacity, keep monitoring it, increase it if we need it,” she said.
Long also recommends keeping a supply of home COVID tests in their home in case it’s needed. You can request free tests here or get a free home COVID test at the following Richmond Public Library locations: Broad Rock, East End, Ginter Park, Main Library and North Avenue.
To learn more about Richmond-Henrico Health Districts COVID testing, click here.
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