Health officials issue advice on masks | COVID-19 in Ohio

Health officials issued a mask advisory on Friday urging everyone to wear a mask indoors and in crowded areas, regardless of vaccination status.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health issued mask advisories Friday, urging everyone to wear a mask inside public buildings and in crowded areas.

The advisories will be in effect until further notice and will apply to everyone, regardless of their vaccination status. CPH emphasized that notices are not a warrant.

The announcement comes after new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 tracking map showed transmission in Franklin County is high.

The current case rate for the county is 214 per 100,000 and new hospital admissions are 10.7%, with 3.7% of hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 26,610 new cases of COVID-19 and 690 hospitalizations statewide.

According to CPH, the mask advisories follow CDC guidelines for an area with high community spread of COVID-19.

“Protecting ourselves and our community from COVID-19 requires a multi-layered approach,” said Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from hospitalization and death from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and boosted. Wearing a mask and testing if you are sick will also help slow the spread.

Health officials have warned that two new, highly transmissible variants are spreading rapidly across the country.

The variants, named BA.4 and BA.5, come from the omicron strain of COVID-19 which has been responsible for almost all of the spread of the virus in the country and are even more contagious than the earlier ones.

Health officials have said the variants have the ability to circumvent protection and immunity from infection and vaccination.

The ODH has labeled both variants as variants of concern. Since July 2, BA. 4 represents 10.69% of state cases and BA.5 represents 45.80%.

The most common symptoms with the newer variants mimic the common, with patients suffering from sore throats and runny noses. A significant change in symptoms for the subvariants is an increase in sneezing, which health officials have not seen in earlier forms of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

Franklin County Public Health encourages residents to get tested if they have symptoms and to be up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and reminders.

CPH is offering drop-in appointments Monday through Friday for those seeking COVID-19 vaccinations or boosters.

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