HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — The U.S. Space and Rocket Center announced on Wednesday, September 1, that it will require all visitors ages 3 and older to wear masks starting on Friday, September 3, as COVID numbers continue to rise across Alabama.
As of September 1, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) considers all 67 Alabama counties to be at a high level of community transmission. This means that every county in the state has at least 100 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.
"Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 transmissions, beginning Friday, September 3 the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is requiring all visitors ages 3 and older wear masks inside the buildings and on simulators regardless of vaccination status," the rocket center wrote in a Facebook post.
Back in May of this year, the CDC said that fully vaccinated people did not have to wear masks in certain places. Many medical experts are rethinking this decision, including UAB Infectious Disease Division Director Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo.
Marrazzo gave three reasons as to why people in Alabama should consider masking up again:
"One, is because we have such a low rate of vaccination in Alabama. That means we have a lot of uninfected people who are vulnerable to being infected, and who then can infect other people so if we were in a state that was incredibly highly vaccinated, where everybody was protected, I might be a little less likely to recommend that," said Marrazzo.
Most of the COVID-related hospitalizations we see are seeing right now have to do with the Delta variant, which is said to be the most contagious variant yet.
"The second reason is that the Delta virus is so contagious, so much more contagious than the original strains that you need every added layer of protection you can get to avoid getting it, so, especially if you're unvaccinated," said Marrazzo.
Ever since the COVID-19 vaccine made its way onto the scene, there has been talk of a booster shot and that additional doses may be recommended.
As of right now immunocompromised people are the only ones who can receive any additional shots but before too long booster shots will be available to the general public.
Until then, to cut down on what is called 'breakthrough cases', which is when a fully vaccinated person does catch COVID, people can wear masks to decrease their chances of infection.
"Then the third reason is that we are seeing evidence of immunity from the initial round of vaccines starting to wane and that's why the administration last week, floated this idea of booster shots which may start as soon as September 20," said Marrazzo.