'A new battle': Sonoma County braces for new masking rules after rise in COVID infections

"This Delta variant has changed the narrative, now we need to be more aggressive."
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, a rise in new COVID-19 infections has Sonoma County officials considering a mandatory mask mandate within days.

The fourth wave of COVID-19 is blamed on the aggressive and contagious Delta variant. Now, fears over the new strain may be convincing some to get vaccinated now.

"It's been scary adding extra stress," Aunalisa Cresswell.

Cresswell is expecting her first baby in a matter of weeks. She decided to get vaccinated at a Santa Rosa clinic after family members practically begged her to.

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"With the new variant, it's scary, my dad's having emotional issues knowing I'm not vaccinated," she added.

This clinic at the Jockey Club, near the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, has seen a rise in people looking for shots, 200 given since last Wednesday, fears about Delta, providing possible incentive.

"A lot of young people are coming to get vaccinated who may have thought they were immune," said Wendy Young from Sonoma County Medical Association.

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A USCF doctor explains why he believes everyone should be wearing masks indoors again, regardless of vaccination status.

Seventy percent of Sonoma County residents are vaccinated but officials say, the unvaccinated population is fueling a rise of 1,450 new COVID infections, the most since early March.

"This Delta variant has changed the narrative, now we need to be more aggressive, a bigger opponent a new battle," said Sonoma County spokesperson Paul Gullixson.

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Hospital emergency rooms are once again filled with COVID-19 patients, healthcare workers bracing for the surge.

It means, an indoor mask mandate is likely any day, for most Bay Area counties.

"We definitely are close to a mandate of wearing a mask, that's where we are," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

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"Delta is causing majority of COVID cases, this surge is going faster than last winter," said San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Grant Colfax.

Small businesses owners in Santa Rosa will comply with new rules, like they've been doing for more than a year. But many say it's beyond frustrating.

"I'm really disappointed I have to say," said Josh Silvers.

Silvers owns Jackson's Bar and Oven, masks are optional inside his restaurant but he'll require them, if he's asked to.

"It's certainly not the direction I want to be going in, so got get vaccinated, it's that simple," said Silvers.

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