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COVID: Mask Mandates or Requests? Health Officials Weigh Options

CBS SF Bay Area logo CBS SF Bay Area 7/23/2021 Syndicated Local – CBS San Francisco

MARTINEZ (KPIX) — Officials with local government offices all the way up to the White House are contemplating whether mask requirements could return as the Delta variant continues to drive a spike in COVID cases.

For the vaccinated who are reluctant to return to that practice, health officials say it’s time to consider it.

“Some people are going to wear the mask and some people are going to be very defiant,” said a Martinez woman, contemplating a return to mask mandates. “Because once it was lifted, I think it’s hard to go back.”

On Thursday, health officials from Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties urged businesses to implement mandatory COVID vaccination policies amid the rapid rise COVID cases fueled by the Delta variant.

Meanwhile, Three East Bay counties — are currently seeing COVID case numbers that would put them back in the Purple Tier if California was still using that color-coded system.

Based on case data analysis by the Bay Area News Group, Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties would all be in the most restrictive tier from the Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework that state health officials used until the June 15th full reopening of California. That tier heavily restricted indoor activities and had many businesses operating at only 25% capacity inside if at all.


Video: COVID Q&A: Masking Requests May Soon Become Mandate in Bay Area (CBS SF Bay Area)

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With growing talk of a possible return to mandatory mask rules, many of the vaccinated in the East Bay have already made the decision for themselves.

“I have a friend who is fully vaccinated and she got COVID,” explained vaccinated East Bay resident Vickie Dawes. “She said it was like a really bad cold, but I don’t want it.”

“It just feels like we are not sure of everything yet,” said Rebecca Barrett, who also was vaccinated. “Even though I’m vaccinated and I feel pretty comfortable walking outside, I’m about to go pick up lunch and that’s gonna be going inside, so I’m gonna wear a mask.”

Others will be harder to convince a second time.

“They felt the freedom and they’re tired of being afraid, and they feel that they’re safe,” said another mask wearer.

“The Delta variant changes the equation enough so that masks, again, become a very sensible additional protection,” explained Dr. Harvey Fineberg, former dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Fineberg stresses that vaccines have proven to be very successful at preventing serious illness, even with the variants, but you are more likely to contract the virus.

“Even the immunized — because of the reduced effectiveness of the vaccine against Delta — even the immunized now should be wearing masks indoors,” Fineberg said.

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