COVID-19 News|

Cone Health encourages mask-wearing indoors. Masks have repeatedly been shown
through studies and real-world experiences to work. Daily reported cases in Guilford
County have grown by more than 13 times since July 1st.  Vaccination and masking are
the two main actions we can take to lessen the impact of COVID-19.

Masks are known to be effective countermeasures against the spread of respiratory
viruses. 8 Studies have indicated positive impacts of masking on reducing the
transmission of infection. 9,10 Masks protect both the wearer and reduce the risk of
spreading the virus to others through source control. 11 Several studies have shown that
when people wear masks in hospitals, schools, and other indoor environments,
transmission is minimal.

Internal models indicate that our region will continue to experience a rising number of
cases over the next six weeks. This increase is due infectious nature of the Delta
variant, high number of vulnerable community members given low level of immunity
through vaccine or natural infection. As cases increases, hospitalizations will also rise
impacting the lives of members of our community and the health systems’ ability to
serve them. Similar to how seatbelts protect drivers and their passengers from severe
injury, masks protect the wearer in the same way.

Optional masking policies have failed to stop the spread of the Delta variant. This was
observed in our community already in the first week of school. Multiple regional
school boards have recognized the importance of mandatory indoor masking to meet
the educational needs of our children.

Having children attend in-person school also provides necessary childcare for many in
to support their ability to work.

For these reasons, Cone Health supports indoor mask-wearing. Indoor masking will
reduce the number of possible secondary infections and associated hospitalizations.

Background information

SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, is a respiratory virus that can be
spread to others through droplets and small aerosols expelled from the nose and mouth
of infected individuals. 1 SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to spread best in certain high-risk
environments such as indoors, poorly ventilated spaces, and sharing meals in close
contact with infected individuals.

The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the dominant variant of the virus in our area, is highly
transmissible with an infected individual spreading the infection to between 5-9
additional persons. 4,5 Contact tracing studies have indicated that 67-80% of
transmission events occur before symptom onset. 4 Additionally, the Delta variant
appears to have a shorter incubation period with infected individuals generating higher
levels of virus earlier, showing symptoms 3-4 days after being exposed to an infected person making contact tracing challenging. This means that someone may transmit the virus to many others before they know that they are infected, resulting in large numbers of secondary cases.

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