West Michigan Community Mental Health (CMH) announced Tuesday that anyone entering its facilities in Mason, Lake and Oceana counties must wear a face mask in response to new federal health guidelines and rising cases of COVID-19.

The CDC changed its guidance last week to recommend that masks be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status.

“The safety of our consumers and staff is our number one priority,” said Alan Neushwander, director of public relations and customer service at CMH. “We constantly monitor data related to COVID-19 and make our decisions based off current positivity rates and guidance from local, state and federal health officials. Effective immediately, we are requiring anyone who enters our facilities, including those who are fully vaccinated, to wear a mask.”

The CDC has identified Mason County as an area of substantial COVID-19 transmission. Oceana and Lake counties are listed as areas with moderate community spread.

“According to the CDC, the Delta variant is more contagious than past versions of the virus,” Neushwander said. “The number of positive cases locally has increased significantly over the past seven days, which led us to our decision to mandate masks again while in a West Michigan CMH building. We will reevaluate the data and public health recommendations again in two weeks to determine what precautions we need to have in place to keep our consumers and staff safe.”

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