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Faced with ‘substantial transmission’ of COVID, Lewis County requires masks in government buildings

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 9:26 AM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - If you’re visiting a Lewis County government building, you need to mask up.

In a policy approved by the Board of Legislators Tuesday, people entering government facilities need to wear masks, whether they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 or not.

County Manager Ryan Piche says it’s because of CDC guidance that recommends masks in communities with “substantial transmission” of the coronavirus.

“When you come into a Lewis County facility, you have a right to expect that it is safe and that is what this step does,” he said.

While this designation is in place, the county Department of Motor Vehicles is reverting back to some pandemic practices

“A little more of a socially distant system in here so, currently I think our waiting room is - I had it up to 3 quarters so, like, 16. We are probably going to back it off to back to about 10 seats again. We are just going to spread the seats out,” said Jake Moser, county clerk.

As the county continues to fall behind in its vaccination effort, Piche says it’s unclear when things may change

“We know what is going to get us out of this, you know, this pandemic once and for all. We have that weapon, it is the vaccine and we just need to continue to encourage people to, you know, get engaged with that,” he said.

The policy will be lifted, he said, when the county returns to “moderate transmission” status.

The CDC tracks how quickly the disease is spreading on this website.

It shows that while Lewis County has a substantial rate of transmission, the rates in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties are moderate.

To help slow the virus, Lewis County is holding a vaccine clinic from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the Lowville Fire Hall.

Vaccines are also available by appointment at Lewis County Public Health by calling 315-376- 5453.

The CDC’s website shows that between 40 and 50 percent of Lewis County residents have had at least one dose of a vaccine. The other two counties are both between 50 and 70 percent.

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