The Department of Health recommends that Montgomery County residents wear face masks outdoors starting Monday, a step that reflects concern and uncertainty about transmission of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

People should wear face masks outdoors whenever they can’t stay at least 6 feet away from others, county officials said in a press release, citing the extent to which the virus has been transmitted. classified as “high” for the past two weeks.

The recommendation applies to everyone, regardless of immunization status, while the county remains highly contagious. Every county in Pennsylvania – and most of the country – is in the high category.

Drexel’s epidemiologist Michael LeVasseur said the recommendation to wear a mask makes sense, given the infectivity of the delta variant.

“Masks add an extra layer of protection to prevent infection,” he said in an email. “As cases increase in our area, we should look at how to reduce our exposure to infections and this certainly includes the measures that we suggested in the previous era. when the vaccine is widely deployed.”

Last month, Oregon became the first state to mandate the wearing of masks outdoors even for those who have been vaccinated to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

Montgomery County’s recommendation is more stringent than the CDC’s and is the first county in the region to implement a new call for face coverings outdoors since the spring, when vaccines were made available and regulations on wearing masks became available. Outdoor pages begin to be loosened.

The CDC said in an August guidance update that masks are generally not necessary in outdoor settings, but recommends that consideration be given to wearing masks in crowded outdoor environments or close contact activities in areas where they are not safe. areas of high transmission.

Philadelphia requires masks outdoors at all unseated events with more than 1,000 attendees. Montgomery’s new general recommendation for outdoor face coverings excludes anyone participating in sporting activities. The county also recommends wearing masks indoors.

The CDC currently recommends wearing masks indoors.

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