For the first time since late winter, the city of Dayton is once again requiring its employees to wear masks while at work.
In a message to employees, Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said Montgomery County has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for several weeks and the CDC has designated Montgomery County as having a “high” level COVID risk.
“The risk of the spread of COVID is high, and we are seeing increasing numbers of cases in our city workforce,” she wrote.
City officials said this week that 21 employees had tested positive for COVID so far in July, after 31 tested positive for the full month of June.
Given the current threat of infection, Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County recommends community members wear masks indoors in public.
People at high risk of severe illness may want to consider extra precautions, public health said, and community members should get tested if they have symptoms.
City Manager Dickstein recently sent out a message to city personnel saying starting on Monday, July 18, they must wear masks or facial coverings while around others inside of city facilities and vehicles.
Dickstein wrote the city must take precautions to protect city staff and others from COVID.
She said the two-week COVID incident rate for the week ending July 15 was 8.5 times higher than during the same period last year.
Visitors, generally, are not required to wear masks in city facilities, a city spokesperson said, but people attending the city commission meeting on Wednesday had to don face coverings.
Masks will be required at commission meetings until further notice out of concern for public health, the spokesperson said.
Previously, the city rescinded its indoor mask mandate for employees in early March.
At that time, the city also suspended its policy that employees had to be vaccinated or take part in regular COVID-19 testing.
For the week of July 22, the two-week incident rate was 5.5 times higher than this time last year, said John Steele, a spokesperson with Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County.
Since there is a high level of COVID in the community, employers should follow CDC recommendations that include directing employees and visitors to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, Steele said.
“In the workplace, individuals should avoid or limit in-person meetings, practice social distancing, disinfect common surfaces and stay home when they are sick, as well as get tested if they have symptoms,” he said.
COVID can easily spread at workplaces if employees are not taking precautions, he said, and employers should stress the importance of employees following CDC recommendations.
Steele said it is hard to say for sure why Montgomery County is seeing an increase in cases.
But he said possible explanations include the fact that current subvariants of omicron are more transmissible and people are taking being as careful and taking safety precautions.
“It is a good idea for people to avoid or limit close interactions with others, especially if they are indoors for an extended period,” Steele said. “Outdoor activities are less risky, but it is still a good idea to practice social distancing when possible and avoid face to face interactions with those outside of your immediate household.”