As of Tuesday, 80.87% of U.S. counties fall into the high or substantial transmission categories. The number of counties falling under the highest transmission status increased by ~16% over the last week, so unless something drastic changes you can expect it will likely continue to rise next week.
You can see the current percentages up to date on the CDC website here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view. Scroll down that page to see the table called "Level of Community Transmission", which you can see here with this today's data:
Clinically and operationally, we do think this is the right move. Whether the other social and political implications make sense for your company is another story. Over 78% of US counties last week fell into the category where fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors. Population-wise, it’s likely an even higher percentage of the total US population. Tracking week-by-week, county-by-county transmission data is going to be a challenge. Plus there’s the issue of what to do when someone works in one county and lives in another if they’re at different transmission levels. It’s all very complicated. Our honest opinion is that it’s safest to require masks for everyone indoors at work right now for the next few weeks to see how this plays out and to get us through this surge.
In the past few weeks, we’ve learned a lot more about how infectious the Delta variant is and about the rate of breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people. As we do, it’s becoming more and more clear that vaccinated people can transmit the virus if they get infected, even if their symptoms are mild, which means that we can expect prolonged time indoors to lead to outbreaks even if most of the people inside are vaccinated. Given that risk, and how quickly all of this has changed in the past four weeks, many of our clients - along with large companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Goldman Sachs, and more - are making major changes to their reopening plans. Many are delaying from September to October, with a few even skipping straight to January 2022 planned reopening. Others are moving to requiring proof of vaccination for those who are in-person at the office. It’s important to remember that most public health experts are concerned about what will happen in the fall
This is a hot topic right now. Many of our clients are choosing to require vaccination for everyone who works indoors, either without exception or with masks and weekly testing required for anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated. Others are delaying their return to the office until case rates and transmission calm down in their area. Things are changing quickly, so whatever you choose, keep in mind that we’re still learning new things about how the Delta variant works and how vaccines protect against it, so we will need to be flexible and continue to make changes over the next few weeks and months.
This is a legal question more than a clinical one, but many of our clients are having employees make their own testing arrangements and email a copy of results. According to a recent New York Times article on the subject, it’s really up to employers whether to cover the bill. For their part, the federal government will be footing the bill for weekly testing for their own unvaccinated federal workers. Meanwhile, neither NY nor CA has confirmed who will pay for their workers after announcing similar weekly testing requirements for unvaccinated state employees. MGM Resorts will charge their employees a $15 copay for testing. As always, be sure to check with your legal counsel before finalizing any vaccination or testing policy.