Cedar Rapids requires mask wearing in city-owned buildings

Cedar Rapids City Hall — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

The City of Cedar Rapids is requiring all visitors to city-owned buildings to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

The change is in line with the most recent guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, the city said in a news release. The CDC’s pivot about fully vaccinated individuals wearing masks comes as the COVID-19 Delta variant is rapidly spreading.

CDC data shows that fully vaccinated people infected with Delta can spread the virus to others, and breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated individuals, while still quite rare, have increased.

The CDC recommends individuals living in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission of COVID-19 to wear a mask in public when indoors, even if they’re vaccinated. A total of 75 counties in Iowa had a “substantial” or “high” level of community spread from Monday, July 26 to Sunday, Aug. 1.

Linn County had a “high” level of community transmission. The week prior the county had “substantial” community transmission.

CDC map of county-level COVID-19 spread in Iowa, July 26 through Aug. 1 27, 2021.

Linn County Public Health is backing the updated CDC guidance.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing rapid spread of virus among unvaccinated folks,” LCPH Director Pramod Dwivedi said in a news release. “We are seeing high transmission in Linn County, overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated. Risk remains greater for everyone if we do not reduce the current spread of virus, and vaccinations and face-coverings are the way to stop the spread of this disease. We whole-heartedly join the CDC in recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face covering indoors in Linn County. We are offering the same advice to our K-12 schools.”

Slightly more than half of the county’s residents — 53 percent — are fully vaccinated and another 3 percent are partially vaccinated, according to LCPH data.

The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death from the virus, LCPH said. All three vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. are effective against all currently identified variants.

Cedar Rapids lifted its city-wide mask mandate after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill barring local governments from creating a mask mandate stricter than what the state has. Iowa has no mask mandate. The same legislation prohibits school boards from mandating masks among their students, staff and visitors.

Individuals who do not want to conduct city business in person can access city services online, by telephone or by email. A drop box is available outside the City Services Center’s front doors for anyone needing to drop off permits, payment or paperwork that would normally be dropped off in person. A drop box is also available in front of City Hall.

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