Johnson County Public Health recommends indoor mask-wearing

Johnson County Public Health is now recommending that persons fully vaccinated and unvaccinated wear masks in indoor settings.


Lily Smith

The Johnson County Health and Human Services building at 855 South Dubuque Street.

Sabine Martin, News Editor

Johnson County Public Health recommends indoor mask-wearing, “vaccinated or not,” in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s July 27 guidelines. 

Johnson County Community Health Manager Sam Jarvis told the Johnson County Board of Supervisors Wednesday morning that as of Aug. 4, the county is experiencing moderate transmission, but some surrounding communities and across the state are experiencing substantial or high transmission.

“Likely, throughout this week, we will see our county creep into substantial or high transmission going forward,” Jarvis said. “We have been seeing cases in double digits this past week more consistently, and so, we will likely trend upward as our other counties surrounding us have.”

The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission, according to July 27 guidance.

Jarvis said larger Iowa counties like Scott County, Polk County, and Linn County are also trending upward. Iowa’s 7-day positivity rate average is 7.6 percent.

  • In Johnson County, the 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate is 5 percent.
  • In Polk County, the 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate is 8 percent.
  • In Linn County, the 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate is 8 percent.
  • In Scott County, the 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate is 9 percent.

Linn County is experiencing a high level of community transmission, and Polk County is experiencing a substantial level of community transmission.

“We will ramp up our messaging and information so that we’re explaining the change to everyone because we know how disappointing it is to hear that masks will be asked again of the public in indoor spaces,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis said the CDC has new evidence that fully vaccinated persons who can become infected with the COVID-19 Delta variant are able to transmit it to others, which he said is the most notable concern of the variant.

“It’s concerning… we are seeing a lot of progress kind of fade away,” Jarvis said. “We know that predominantly a lot of the cases are due to unvaccinated persons. When we look at hospitalization rates and deaths, they’re primarily unvaccinated persons.”

The COVID-19 vaccines are working the way they are intended to, he said.

“No one ever mentioned that this would be a silver bullet,” he said. “With the high transmission and the concerns of this variant, we are seeing progress be eroded.”

Jarvis said Johnson County Public Health has been planning with the University of Iowa on how to align its COVID-19 recommendations with the UI and state Board of Regents policies for the arrival of students for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 23.

“On one optimistic end, it looks like the sample that have gone through our partners at UI Student Health are largely vaccinated,” Jarvis said.

He said he does not think the county will see a surge of COVID-19 cases like last November.

“We hope that it would just be a smaller bump, but do we expect to increase? Absolutely,” Jarvis said. “It’s likely to happen.”