As virus rates continue to drop in the Stateline Area and life slowly inches back to normal, Rock County Public Health Department officials are asking residents to remain cautious when considering summer travel plans following the recent change in mask guidance.
Health Officer Katrina Harwood said that although Rock County was seeing decreased spread of the virus, she urged those with summer travel plans to monitor case rates and current public health orders in place at their travel destinations.
“We ask that people remain cautious when traveling for summer activities and follow local ordinances for what those communities might have,” Harwood said during a May 20 media briefing.
When returning from traveling, Harwood urged residents to monitor symptoms and get tested if they suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19.
Even as mask orders in greater Rock County, Beloit and Janesville have been lifted, Harwood said those who might want to consider wearing a mask are still able to, stressing that fully vaccinated people should take precautions around those who are at a higher risk of COVID-19.
CDC guidance states that those who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear a mask in most cases, outside of transit, health care and congregate living settings. Masks can still offer some protection, and Harwood said that protection can even expand to offering peace of mind.
“We understand that some people may want to wear a mask even after vaccination,” Harwood said.
A week after the massive shift in mask guidance, Harwood said the health department was “committed” to working with local businesses to navigate the shift back to normal, pre-pandemic life.
“We’re working with local businesses to revise their own guidance and we want to support them based on their own risk in their industry,” Harwood said. “This is something very new to us. Mask orders were new last year, and this is a transition back to normal.”
Rock County Epidemiologist Nick Zupan said the health department has identified 20 cases in which fully vaccinated residents have contracted COVID-19, known as a breakthrough case.
“That represents a total of 0.04% of all vaccinations in Rock County and that’s consistent with the numbers the state is seeking at around 0.045% of those who are fully vaccinated contracting the virus. We are seeing a very small number of people who are getting COVID-19 after full vaccination.”
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after either their second dose or a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.