As cases surge, Rowan Board of Health recommends mask wearing to slow COVID-19

Published 11:47 am Wednesday, August 11, 2021

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Health voted Tuesday night to formally recommend mask wearing indoors for all residents in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

The Board of Health’s mask recommendation applies even to those who are fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who are vaccinated but have had a “breakthrough” case of COVID-19 can still transmit the virus to others. 

“I strongly recommend wearing masks indoors – for all citizens, especially school-aged children – given that Rowan County has a high transmission rate and a large number of active cases at this time,” Health Director Alyssa Harris said in a news release.

The board’s recommendation came on the eve of the first day of school for students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System. While the school board has made masks optional, the district will comply with an order from the Center for Disease Control requiring masks on public transportation, including school buses. Harris attended a school board meeting on Monday night and provided its members with an update on the state of COVID-19 in the county.

The number of positive COVID cases in Rowan County, Harris said, is currently higher than it was at the start of last school year. Rowan County is considered by the CDC to have a high community transmission rate. There have been 944 new cases in the past two weeks and about 16.3% of cases are coming back positive. The latest state data shows 322 people have died from COVID-19 in Rowan County. Six of those deaths have come in the last week.

Children under the age of 12 are not currently eligible for the vaccine and only 17% of children 12 to 17 in Rowan County are currently vaccinated, according to the Health Department. The Board of Health is encouraging parents of children who are eligible for the shot to get them vaccinated.

The Board of Health is also advising schools to help reduce rate of transmission by cleaning surfaces regularly, improving building ventilation, practicing social distancing whenever possible and encouraging good hand hygiene throughout the school day.