Updated 03/08/21 at 5:35 p.m.
The Cape Girardeau County Public Health Board voted unanimously to rescind the Face Covering Order, on Monday, March 8, 2021. The announcement was made official at 9:45 a.m.
Although the Face Covering Order was officially lifted, the Public Health Board continues to "strongly recommend" that face-coverings be worn by residents and visitors of Cape Girardeau County.
The initial order was put into effect on July 13, 2020, and amended on October 27, 2020 to include stipulations based on the county's COVID-19 case positivity rate dropping below 5% for a two-week period, and the new rolling case count staying below 200 for a two-week period.
The Board determined the first criteria had been met. This was based on the 14-day case count of new cases staying below 200 for a two-week period and the guidance of Medical Director Dr. John Russell.
The positivity rate was omitted because the Board felt it was no longer an accurate measure with the significant decrease in testing.
Other factors included the presense of a COVID-19 vaccine widely available to the general public, as well as a highly-effective, relatively low-cost COVID-19 therapeutic treatment for the virus.
The Cape Girardeau County Health Board stated that the rescinding of the order does not supersede other governing bodies such as the Federal, state, and school board requirements.
The CDC does still recommend that people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people.
Individual businesses may still ask patrons to wear mask and require masks for them to enter their facility.
Those that have received a COVID-19 vaccine are also still recommended to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and frequent hand washing.
The precaution for vaccinated individuals continues, since there is currently limited information on how much the vaccines might reduce transmission, how long protection lasts, as well as the efficacy of the vaccines against new COVID-19 variants.