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Polk County now area of 'substantial' COVID-19 transmission, CDC recommends even vaccinated mask up

The shift from the moderate to substantial level means the CDC now recommends mask-wearing indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

DES MOINES, Iowa — New guidelines released this week recommended mask-wearing regardless of vaccination status in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging, indicated by the orange and red areas on the map.

CDC COVID transmission map as of 5 p.m. Sunday:

Credit: CDC

Many central Iowa counties were already in the orange or red zones, but Polk County was in the yellow zone as of Friday.

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In counties with substantial transmission levels, the CDC says "everyday activities should be limited to reduce spread and protect the health care system." In counties with high transmission, the CDC says "significant measures are needed to limit contact between persons, with priority given to maintaining essential community activities and services."

The threshold for substantial transmission is 50 cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate above 8%. The threshold for high transmission is 100 cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate above 10%

As of Sunday, Polk County had 66.1 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

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According to the CDC, 69.2% of Polk County residents 12 and older have had at least one dose of the vaccine and 63.4% are fully vaccinated.

The full map showing community transmission levels across the U.S. is available here:

The Polk County Health Department will hold a press conference answering questions on the substantial risk categorization and the surge in the Delta variant on Monday.

Watch: CDC: Delta variant accounts for 83% of US COVID cases