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Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health: Masks encouraged indoors for everyone ages 2 and up; schools to mandate masks

Story updated at 5:08 p.m. Tuesday:

Following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health issued a news release encouraging locals ages 2 and older to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

Public health officials’ concern has grown along with the frequency of the more-contagious Delta variant of COVID-19. The rolling average of new cases reported in Douglas County is up to 15 a day, the highest rate since February.

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Lawrence Public Schools guidance released last week mandated masks for those who are unvaccinated, but that was updated Tuesday, also. LDCPH is now suggesting that everyone in grades K-12 wear masks “due to the potential that much of the population could be unvaccinated,” according to its release.

In an email to families Tuesday afternoon following the health department’s announcement, spokesperson Julie Boyle wrote that the Lawrence school district will be requiring masks for everyone ages 2 and up when indoors on district property. The new universal mask requirement is effective immediately and subject to change, Boyle wrote.

Though vaccination has shown to be effective to prevent hospitalization and death, those who are fully vaccinated “could potentially still be asymptomatic and spread the virus in some cases, putting those unvaccinated at risk, including children 11 and younger who are currently not eligible for the vaccine,” according to the health department.

Now is the time if you’ve been hesitant to get the vaccine, local health officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino said in the release.

“We have no reports of a fully vaccinated Douglas County resident to date having to be hospitalized for COVID. The vaccines are providing great protection for everyone, especially our most vulnerable populations,” Marcellino said.

The vaccine is free and anyone ages 12 and up is eligible for it. Find out where to get yours or make an appointment at this link. Find a calendar of upcoming public vaccine clinics at this link.

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