Getting ready for graduation: RHS seniors walk the halls of West End

In this May 2021 file photo, Rome High School seniors returned to their elementary alma maters for the class of 2021 Senior Walk. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on wearing masks Tuesday and recommended that K-12 students and teachers wear masks, even if they are vaccinated.

That guidance comes as the delta COVID-19 variant spreads, especially in areas of the country were vaccination rates are low. 

None of the vaccines are authorized for children under 12, and teens have shown low rates of vaccination.

At this point both Floyd County Schools and Rome City Schools have said masks will be optional as schools prepare to resume. Both school systems resume classes on August 5.

The newest guidance also stated that vaccinated people should wear a mask in public indoor settings in states with "substantial and high transmission." 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has already weighed in and recommended that students, regardless of vaccination status, should wear face coverings in the classroom to help prevent transmission.

While children are much less likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease, public health officials said the rapid spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated children could lead infecting more vulnerable populations or the creation of new, harmful variants.

Both school systems have held teacher and staff vaccination days and Floyd County Schools are making the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines available for their staff and community on July 30 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Floyd County Schools' central office on Riverside Parkway.

Floyd County has shown an increase in new COVID-19 cases since the beginning of July that public health officials have attributed to the delta variant. There have been 325 new COVID-19 cases in Rome and Floyd County in the past two weeks, according to the Department of Public Health.

That's an increase from declining and low infection rates since April. 

At this point those increased infections have only resulted in a bump in hospitalizations locally. The Floyd County Emergency Management Agency reported that there were 13 COVID-19 positive patients in Floyd Medical Center and 6 in Redmond Regional Medical Center. Two additional patients are suspected of having the virus but are not confirmed.

While those numbers have increased in the past two weeks, they are still low compared to the 120-plus COVID-19 patients being treated in local hospitals in December 2020.

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