If community spread increases in Montco, these COVID-19 guidelines will change

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Montco officials expected the county to be classified by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as having a high level of COVID-19 transmission by Friday, but Friday’s numbers actually show a slight dip in new cases.

That keeps the county in the CDC’s “substantial” category. County officials say they are keeping an eye on numbers and will adjust if needed.

If the county does reach the “high” category, what does that mean?

“Once we [reach] that, our standard guidelines do recommend masking in public places for all individuals, vaccinated and unvaccinated,” explained Dr. Richard Lorraine, Montgomery County Office of Public Health medical director.

Face coverings would be recommended outdoors for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, though Lorraine said if you can spread out and stay far from others, there’s no need to wear one.

For now, the county is recommending masks in public indoor settings, starting Monday.

The most important step everyone should be taking, he said, is staying home if they have symptoms.

“We hear a whole lot of people saying, ‘Well, I just have a sinus infection,’ or, ‘I just have a cold, so I’m not worried about it.’ Well, that’s overlap with the symptoms of COVID,” he said. “So if I could really emphasize one point, it’s any illness, please stay home.”

While the number of new cases is a good metric to follow, Lorraine said hospitalizations and deaths are also important to watch.

In Montgomery County, those are not rising at the same level as new cases. He said that doesn’t mean we can sit back and relax, but we are going to have to learn to live with background levels of COVID-19, and the best way to do that is to get everyone vaccinated.

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