Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Michael Mendoza are now recommending all residents wear masks in all public indoor facilities.

The announcement is in response to the CDC's designation of Monroe County as an area of "substantial transmission" of the COVID-19 virus.

They have also announced that all Monroe County employees will be required to wear face masks or face coverings in public and common areas in all county-operated facilities. That takes effect on Tuesday.

“We’re seeing a surge of daily new positive COVID-19 cases in Monroe County and in many other communities across the state,” said Bello. “While we know the vaccine is effective, we also know that the Delta variant is more contagious than previous strains of the virus. As we continue to follow CDC guidance, and in order to slow spread, we’re strongly recommending all Monroe County residents wear a face mask when indoors, where we know the virus spreads even greater.”

“As this pandemic continues to evolve, we must apply what we have learned so far,” added Dr. Mendoza. “The vaccines are proven to be highly effective, even against the Delta variant, in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death. However, an additional layer of protection will help keep the virus from spreading, especially among our most vulnerable populations including the unvaccinated and immunocompromised. Masks are a proven tool that can help us contain the current surge and protect everyone in our community.”

Bello, Mendoza and leaders of local health care systems also announced that unvaccinated employees of Monroe Community Hospital, the Monroe County Department of Public Health, Rochester Regional Health, URMC, the University of Rochester and UR Medicine affiliates must be vaccinated by Wednesday, September 8, or be subject to frequent COVID-19 testing.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and have proven to protect people from serious illness and death even in the instances vaccinated individuals contract COVID-19," Bello said in a statement. "We must remain vigilant against the virus, particularly in health care settings as we continue to see increasing new daily positive cases here in Monroe County and across the state. This is good public health policy and will further protect our community from additional spread of COVID-19."

“Our primary responsibility is to protect the health and safety of our community, and science shows us that getting vaccinated is the most important step we can take at this stage of the pandemic,” Mendoza said in a statement. “The vaccines are safe and effective against serious illness, hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19, and they are the key to eradicating this threat once and for all.”

Employees must be able to document their vaccination status.

Shortly after September 8, unvaccinated employees are being required to undergo frequent regular testing, wear masks indoors and practice social distancing while at work.

The county says those who decline to report their status or to undergo testing will face disciplinary consequences. Employees vaccinated after September 8 can be released from the testing, masking, and distancing requirements once their fully vaccinated status is documented with the employer.