​[This article has been updated.]

Last month's announcement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent ripples through workplaces, as many employers in the midst of reopening now face a renewed mask-wearing recommendation for those who are fully vaccinated in areas with a high level of community transmission of COVID-19.

The threshold outlined by the CDC is represented by the orange and red tiers on the map, signifying Substantial and High levels of community transmission, respectively. The CDC urges caution, however, when interpreting the levels, as some data may differ from that on state and local websites. State and local mandates should be followed regardless of the level reported by the CDC.

As of August 10, nearly 90 percent of U.S. counties fall under the CDC's mask-wearing guidance. Visit the CDC's website for the latest data.


CDC's COVID-19 Integrated County View

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed August 10, 2021.

Employers should be sure to track the level of community transmission in any counties in which they have an in-person workforce. Employers also should stay up-to-date on changing mandates from state and local governments.

A county's level of community transmission depends on two factors: the week-long average number of COVID-19 cases relative to the county's population, and the area's COVID-19 test-positivity rate. The CDC recommends wearing masks indoors for all individuals—including vaccinated individuals—in counties that either average 50 or more cases per 100,000 residents or have a test-positivity rate of 8 percent or higher.

To visualize the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, see an animated time lapse of the map during the month of July, ending July 31:

[For the latest information on COVID-19, visit SHRM's COVID-19 and Coronavirus resource hub pageWant to learn more about COVID-19 and workplace safety? Join us at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Sept. 9-12 in Las Vegas and virtually.]


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