Health Department: masks are recommended


By Staff Report

Following an uptick in cases of COVID-19, county health officials are recommending masks be worn in all indoor settings.

The ‘Mask Advisory,’ which was issued Monday morning, is designed to reduce the spread of the virus locally, and protect the hospital from becoming overwhelmed with patients.

During a special press conference held Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Jack Butterfield, Medical Director of the Zanesville Muskingum County Health Department, said the advisory was issued following a rate of active COVID-19 cases not seen since mid-March.

In his address, Butterfield stressed the importance of being vaccinated against the virus. Those who are fully vaccinated are far less likely to contract COVID-19, and those who do have far less severe symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who are vaccinated often don’t end up hospitalized nor are they nearly as likely to die if they contract the virus.

Of the 116 active cases in Muskingum County, only 12 are considered breakthrough cases in which the patient was fully vaccinated. All three U.S.-approved vaccines can also help protect against COVID-19 variants, such as the Delta strain, but their efficiency can be marginally lower.

Masks help prevent the spread of the virus and ensure those who remain unvaccinated, including those under the age of 12, for whom the vaccine isn’t yet approved, remain protected from potential exposure, Butterfield explained.

“The varients are the problem,” said Butterfield during his address. “It is extremely unlikely to get very sick if you are vaccinated.”

Currently, 39.2 percent of eligible county residents have received a vaccine, nearly 20 points below the national average.

During a short press conference Friday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine warned about rising rates of infection.

“We now have this Delta variant that is everywhere in Ohio,” said DeWine who stressed that the increased week-over-week rising rate was alarming.

Like local officials, DeWine referenced the fact that vaccines are ‘highly, highly effective,’ and encouraged anyone who hasn’t yet, to go out and get vaccinated.

As of now, DeWine said he doesn’t plan to force Ohio’s schoolchildren to wear masks, but that any unvaccinated child should.

Butterfield said he met with local superintendents Monday and a majority of school districts don’t plan to mandate masks be worn. That includes in classrooms where students are too young to be eligible to be vaccinated.

Parents will have the ability to make personal family decisions if they send their children to school in masks or not.

“I am recommending you send your children to school with masks,” Butterfield said during his live press conference.

To see a list of COVID-19 vaccine providers and to register for a shot, check out the Health Department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Portal on their website.