Clay County Board of Health Issues Reminder of County-wide Mask Regulation

posted on Saturday, February 6, 2021 in COVID-19

Though the statewide mask mandate is set to expire in Iowa at midnight Feb. 6, Clay County’s mask regulation remains in effect.

On December 1, 2020, the Clay County Board of Supervisors approved the mask regulation which had been considered and approved by the Clay County Board of Health the week prior. Citizens and visitors in the county are to wear masks in public spaces when a distance of six feet or greater between people cannot be maintained.

 “The Clay County Board of Health just met Thursday and reviewed the COVID-19 numbers in our community.  We were encouraged to see the decrease in cases - we felt this showed our increase in masking is helping,” stated Dr. Janessa Mechler, Clay County Board of Health chair. “As discussed previously our sunset clause indicates we would like to see two consecutive weeks of the 14-day positivity rate to be less than 5 percent before lifting the resolution - as this indicates that unmitigated community spread is under control.”

Positivity rates have shown improvement in recent weeks, with Clay County currently showing an 8 percent positivity rate, and the present statewide rate is 8.9 percent. Mechler commented that county and statewide masking has contributed to the decrease in COVID-19 cases.

“Statewide the decrease in numbers is also reflective of increased masking, avoiding large gatherings, and other mitigation measures; however stopping such effective measures at 8 to 9 percent positivity rates is premature and we can expect to see a rise in cases again,” Mechler said.

Mechler pointed out that vaccine availability continues to be limited locally and a large percentage of the county population has not had a chance to be protected through immunization. Also, new strains of the COVID-19 virus are being identified in the United States, including in Iowa, which are proving to be more contagious, spreading the virus more rapidly.

“If we stop or become lax in our mitigation efforts of wearing masks, social distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene, there is a serious risk that we will lose all we have gained in the past six weeks,” Mechler said. “Let's continue to be kind to our community and support our health care workers - we're not done yet!”

When approved in late 2020, the current county regulation was designed to be lifted once the positivity rate for COVID-19 falls under five percent over a 14-day average. The local positivity rate has not been at five percent or under since summer.