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What Relaxed Mask Mandates Mean for our Local Area

Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 6:48 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -

The CDC is changing its masking guidelines saying most people in the U.S. live in places where healthy people can safely take a break from wearing masks.

The new guidelines focus less on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.

More than 70% of the U.S. population lives in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals.

In this area, eight South Dakota counties land in the C-C’s low or medium community level. This translates to talking to your healthcare provider if you are at risk for severe illness to see if you should be wearing a mask.

Those eight counties are Butte, Fall River, Harding, Jackson, Lawrence, Pennington, Perkins, and Todd Counties.

Where Bennet, Custer, Haakon, Jones , Oglala Lakota, and Ziebach Counties all land in the high category. Which says wear a mask indoors in public.

Even with the lowered guidelines, Doctor Shankur Kurra of Monument Health says there are things to keep in mind with precautions.

Doctor Shankur Kurra of Monument Health: ”One is a personal responsibility. Wear the mask if you’re someone at high risk. You want to avoid crowded spaces, the usual ones we say even during flu season, cough etiquette, cough/sneeze into your elbow, that kind of thing. But then there’s shared responsibility. A big one there is the vaccine. The vaccine is still important. Even with the numbers going down, we still need to vaccinate. That’s the best way to prevent this virus from evolving, new variants developing and new surges happening.”

Doctor Kurra says he’s optimistic that we’re close to moving from the pandemic stage to the endemic stage.

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