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With hospitalizations and transmission low, masking no longer recommended

Based on a new COVID-19 monitoring tool from the CDC, Knox County is now
listed at a medium risk which means masking is not necessary for the general
population when in public indoor spaces. According to Knox Public Health, the
recommendation to discontinue wearing a mask is for most individuals and will
continue as long as COVID-19 transmission rates and hospital admissions for
COVID-19 remain low.
The updated guidance for masking is based on increased risk to the county’s
healthcare systems from COVID-19. The monitoring tool looks at the rate of new
hospital admissions and the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19
patients. These two metrics are viewed in context of the county’s rate of new cases.
Using the metrics, counties are labeled either low, medium or high risk.
Masks are still recommended in healthcare settings and any business or
organization can require masks for its employees, customers or attendees.
People who should still consider wearing a mask when in public indoor spaces
include those who are at high risk for severe illness and those who take care of these
individuals. Older adults and immunocompromised persons are encouraged to talk
with their doctor about the need to wear a mask. Individuals at high-risk for severe
illness are also encouraged to have a plan for rapid COVID-19 testing and should talk
to their doctor in advance of illness about treatment options and how to get them.

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Knox Public Health and the Community Health Center continue to offer
appointments for free testing and vaccines for COVID-19. Vaccinations for anyone,
age 5 and older are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available.
PCR testing is available for anyone whether or not they are symptomatic, including
those who need proof for a negative test for traveling. The test is administered via nasal
swab. To make an appointment to either receive the COVID-19 vaccine or to be tested
for COVID-19, call 740-399-8008.
Statistics from the CDC Data Tracker indicate that approximately 45% (28,275) of
Knox County residents have started the COVID vaccine series. Approximately 43%
(26,575) are considered fully vaccinated.

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