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Coronavirus

Columbus Will Require Face Masks In City Buildings

Columbus Public Health Director Dr. Mysheika Roberts talks on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2021 about the decision to require masks in all city buildings starting on Monday.
Nick Evans
/
WOSU
Columbus Public Health Director Dr. Mysheika Roberts talks on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2021 about the decision to require masks in all city buildings starting on Monday.

Columbus will require all employees and visitors to mask up in city buildings starting on Monday. Meanwhile, Ohio’s daily COVID cases are surging back to levels we haven’t seen since February.

The delta variant is tearing through Franklin County where just over half of the population is fully vaccinated. New cases have more than doubled in the last two weeks, and Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts has a simple message.

“It’s really important now that our community does two things to help us,” Roberts said. “They need to mask up when they’re out of their house. So when they’re indoors they should be wearing masks, when they’re in crowded spaces they should be wearing masks. And if you’re not vaccinated, you should be making plans to get vaccinated now. Don’t wait, get vaccinated now.”

The new masking requirements will apply to all workers and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. In a press release, the city cites preliminary evidence that vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections can then pass the virus on to others.

Roberts said the city saw an uptick in vaccinations through it’s Vax Cash program, which gave out $100 gift cards in exchange for getting a shot.

“That’s kind of leveled off now,” Roberts said. “But we need more people to get vaccinated. We need our community to roll up their sleeves if you’re eligible and get vaccinated now.”

That effort was initially set to end Monday, but Roberts expects to extend it. She said residents responded well to the weekly vaccination clinic model, and she wants to continue with that framework.

“The community knew on Tuesdays you can go here the Columbus health department will be there with vaccines, on Wednesday you can go here,” Roberts describes. “A lot of what we’re getting is word of mouth—our family came, our neighbors came, they were here last week and told us to come this week—so that’s the kind of stability we’re looking for.”

Franklin County remains at the CDC’s highest level of community transmission with seven day average of more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents.