Rock Co. hits substantial level of COVID transmission, health officials urge mask-wearing

JANESVILLE, Wis. — Health officials in Rock County are joining their counterparts in Dane County in urging everyone to wear masks while indoors in public places, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Rock County Public Health Officer Katrina Harwood sent the notice out just before noon Friday, saying the recommendation is being made based on the latest data and circumstances in the county.

“Our goal is to communicate the best science that we have so we can work together to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Harwood said. “We know vaccinated individuals would like to have the benefit of going back to normal activities without a mask, but we would like to see sustained improvement before modifying our guidance again.

The CDC updated its guidelines on mask-wearing indoors in public spaces earlier this week, recommending areas that saw substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission put the masks back on. Harwood said Rock County moved into the “substantial” category on Thursday, prompting the call for mask-wearing.

Dane County officials made the same recommendation on Monday, even as that county was below the CDC threshold. Dane County’s public health officials say they made the call early in hopes of avoiding reaching the substantial transmission level.

Harwood says Rock County Public Health will continue to monitor the CDC’s data tracker and will update its guidance on masks weekly.