The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated mask guidance now applies to nine Massachusetts counties, up from five counties last week. According to CDC data released Monday, Barnstable and Nantucket counties are in the "high" transmission rate category. Bristol, Essex, Hampden, Middlesex, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties are in the "substantial" zone.

The guidance recommends that everyone in a place with a "substantial" or "high" coronavirus transmission rate wear a face-covering in indoor, public places regardless of vaccination status. 

Fully vaccinated individuals are advised to wear a mask or face covering when indoors outside of your home if you have a weakened immune system, are at increased risk for COVID-19 or if someone in your household is at increased risk or unvaccinated.

Masks are still mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities, and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings.

Mask Advisory for Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Residents. The Department of Public Health issued a public health advisory effective July 30 that advises all unvaccinated residents to continue to wear masks in indoor settings and when they can’t socially distance.

The advisory also recommends that vaccinated residents who are at increased risk from COVID-19, or who live with someone at increased risk, should wear a face-covering indoors (other than in their home).

This information will be updated on the webpage https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-mask-requirements

Recent updates by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to its Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools emphasize the importance of all students returning to full-time, in-person school this fall.

The CDC guidance supports the use of vaccines as the primary mitigation measure in
school settings, and also continues to recommend masking in K-12 schools.

Additionally, according to the CDC, “Because of the importance of in-person learning, schools, where not everyone is fully vaccinated, should implement physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures, but should not exclude students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement.”

Massachusetts has among the highest vaccination rates of any state in the nation,2 and evidence continue to reinforce that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, especially against severe disease.3 At the same time, even for those students not yet vaccinated, the apparent risk of COVID-19to children remains small.

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