The Rock County mask order has been lifted. Health Officer Katrina Harwood made the announcement Friday afternoon, but said there are instances in which a mask still should be worn.

The news came a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines saying anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.

Public health officials say people who are not fully vaccinated should still follow CDC guidance and continue social distancing and wearing masks indoors and in crowded spaces.

And, even for those who are vaccinated, the CDC says:

• You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.

• If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.

• People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities. They may need to keep taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19.

Regardless of people’s vaccination status, Rock County Public Health Department says it continues to follow CDC guidance and strongly recommends that everyone wear masks in healthcare settings, schools, correctional facilities and homeless shelters. According to the health department, these settings present a higher risk of transmission, and extra precautions should remain in place.

“Now that more of our residents have been vaccinated, we are removing the mask order so that those people can take advantage of the benefits of being vaccinated,” said Harwood in a news release. “We encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they can.

“We understand that many people still have questions and concerns, and that is normal. If you are unsure about whether the vaccine is right for you, please talk to your doctor.”

The vaccine is free and available to anyone 12 and older.

Visit or to find a provider near you. If you need a ride to your appointment, call 2-1-1 for assistance.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines:

• Are effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death.

• Reduce the risk of people spreading COVID-19.

To be considered fully vaccinated, a person must be at least two weeks after their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

As more people become vaccinated, Harwood said the recommendations will be reviewed.

The CDC says on its website, it’s still learning:

  • How effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others.
  • How well the vaccines protect people with weakened immune systems, including people who take immunosuppressive medications.
  • How long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people.

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