The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending fully vaccinated residents to wear masks due to "substantial" COVID-19 transmission in Cayuga County.
The county has a 7-day average of 52.24 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the CDC. To be classified as a county with substantial transmission, there must be an average of 50 cases per 100,000 people.
According to the Cayuga County Health Department, there were seven new cases in two days. No cases were admitted on Sunday because the office was closed. The county has 40 active cases in isolation and three residents with COVID-19 are being treated at Auburn Community Hospital.
Cayuga County Legislature Chairwoman Aileen McNabb-Coleman said Monday that she is recommending all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask when in public settings and around people outside of their households.
McNabb-Coleman also noted that Cayuga County has one of the lowest vaccination rates compared to surrounding counties. As of Monday, 48.4% of county residents are fully vaccinated. Tompkins (65.5%), Onondaga (60%), Wayne (53.2%) and Oswego (50.4%) counties have higher vaccination rates.
"At this time, I encourage and recommend anyone who is eligible to be vaccinated to get a COVID vaccine now," she said.
While McNabb-Coleman is urging local residents to wear a mask in public settings, there is not a mask mandate in place. In May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted the statewide mask mandate for vaccinated people. Unvaccinated people were required to wear a mask, but there wasn't any enforcement of the mandate.
The mask mandate, like other orders, ended when Cuomo rescinded the state of emergency that had been in effect since March 2020. Cuomo said Monday that he can't issue a statewide mask directive because he no longer has the emergency powers he possessed for much of the pandemic. Instead, he urged local leaders to impose new mask mandates.
The CDC is recommending mask-wearing due to the surge of the Delta variant, which now accounts for a vast majority of COVID-19 cases. Case numbers are rising across the country. Florida reported more than 21,000 new cases in a day last week, the highest single-day count for the state during the pandemic.
With the rise in cases, health experts are urging people to get vaccinated. Cayuga County will hold two walk-in clinics this week. The first is scheduled for 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Port Byron Central School District, 30 Maple Ave. The second clinic will be held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Fingerlakes Mall, 1579 Clark St. Road, Aurelius.
Three vaccines — the single-dose Johnson & Johnson and the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer — will be available at the Port Byron clinic. Moderna and Pfizer shots will be administered at the mall clinic.
Adults age 18 and older are eligible to receive any of the vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine is the only option for children ages 12-17.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.