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McHenry County health department report raises questions about state, federal guidance on masks

The rollout of new federal and state guidelines regarding masks was met with a bit of skepticism from members of the McHenry County Board of Health during its meeting Monday.

In her report Monday to the McHenry County Board of Health, Public Health Administrator Melissa Adamson discussed the news that Gov. JB Pritzker and his administration are now following the recommendation of health officials at the federal level that relaxes mask requirements for vaccinated people.

Under the revised rules, businesses are free to still require masks, and people are still required to wear masks while riding trains, planes, buses or other forms of public transportation, as well as at airports. But for the most part, those who are vaccinated can largely go without masks.

Unvaccinated people, however, are required to continue wearing a mask.

“An obvious question might be, how will we know who’s vaccinated and who’s unvaccinated?” Adamson asked. “It’s really probably going to be an honor system.”

Under the revised guidance, no changes are brought up for schools.

Adamson said it’s clear that the revised guidance raises some questions.

“I think the devil will be in the details on how it gets enforced,” Adamson said.

As of Monday evening, the county currently has 28,672 cases of COVID-19 with 278 confirmed deaths, Public Health Nursing Director Susan Karras said.

The county is reporting a test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average of 4.4%. The incident rate has a seven-day rolling average of 12 per 100,000 people, Karras said.

“We’re seeing a steady decline starting on May 6 with that incident rate,” Karras said.

The county, over the past week, has seen a bit of stability in the numbers of those visiting hospitals, Karras said. Of those, 42% are emergency department visits and 35% are inpatient admittances.

Karras said it’s too soon to get excited about the numbers because it’s only been one week.

Also as of Monday evening, 35% of the county’s population is fully vaccinated, Karras said.

The county is reporting that 75% of those age 65 and older are fully vaccinated with 85% of those having received their first dose, Karras said. The health department identified that 36% of those age 16 to 64 are fully vaccinated with 50% of that population having received their first dose.

The county administered 2,062 doses per day based on a seven-day rolling average, Karras said.

The county health department last week started administering the Pfizer vaccine to people age 12 to 15, officials said.

“It’s too soon to have any statistics on that,” Karras said. “So, I’ll provide that as we see those.”