File Photo – Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike. | Photo: Colin Boyle/My Block, My Hood, My City.

McHenry County is now under the state’s recommendation for all people to wear masks indoors after health officials on Wednesday categorized the county as having “substantial” transmission of COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced Tuesday afternoon that it was “fully adopting” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) latest masking recommendations.

The CDC announced Tuesday morning that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission.

The CDC is also recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status.

“While data continues to show the effectiveness of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S., including against the Delta variant, we are still seeing the virus rapidly spread among the unvaccinated,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

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“Cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 both continue to increase, overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated, but the risk is greater for everyone if we do not stop the ongoing spread of the virus and the Delta variant. We know masking can help prevent transmission of COVID-19 and its variants,” Ezike said.

Ezike added that the state will follow the CDC’s latest mask recommendations until more people are vaccinated.

According to the CDC, data show the Delta variant is much more contagious, the IDPH said. “Delta spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another compared to other strains.”

According to the CDC, the Delta variant is causing some vaccine breakthrough infections that are causing mild symptoms. The vaccines are preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death, the state said.

Areas of “substantial” transmission are considered by CDC to be those with 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

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Areas of “high” transmission are considered to be those with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

On Wednesday, the CDC’s COVID-19 Integrated County View dashboard switched McHenry County from “moderate” transmission to “substantial” transmission after the county reached nearly 52 cases per 100,000 residents in its seven-day average.

Lake County is still in the “moderate” community spread category, which is one level below the “substantial” category.

The IDPH also said they will be updating school FAQs and other guidance posted online to reflect the latest CDC interim recommendations.