California Nurses' Association pressuring the state to reject CDC's mask guidance

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California's Department of Public Health is getting pressure from the state's Nurses' Association to not follow the CDC's mask guidance calling it a "huge blow to their collective efforts at confronting COVID-19."

"We are going to be there for our patients. We always have been, but it was really a challenge caring for so many patients that were so sick with the COVID virus and having 0% capacity sometimes. We don't want to go through that again," said Sandy Reding, President of CA Nurses Association and a Vice President of National Nurses United.

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Nurse Reding says there are multiple factors that concern their workers including people not getting tested, even after getting vaccinated.

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"I think we need to continue with the precautionary principle since there are so many unknown about the variants and the efficacy of the vaccine to whether we are going to need a booster or not. It's also on the honor system," said Reding.

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More than 50% of California residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In San Francisco, the numbers are even better. 60% of the population ages 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

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"I don't think 50% is enough and I think one dose isn't enough," said Reding.

We took these concerns to Dr. Deepak Srivastava, a senior investigator & director of the Gladstone Institutes, a bio-medical research organization.

"The data is clear that the vaccines protect against the variants that we know of right now. Even if there is a break-thru infection which will occur at times the amount of virus that we are detecting in people it's four-fold lower than without a vaccine. They won't get that sick and they won't spread it either so that is really the basis for the CDC's change," said Dr. Srivastava.
Dr. Srivastava says he understands where the California Nurses' Association is coming from.

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"The concern is that things could get out of hand again," said Dr. Srivastava.

But he says the vaccines have the power to protect us without the mask.

"We have a good idea now not just in the clinical trials but in the field what the protection is of this vaccine and it's amazing. Really 94% even with health care workers getting exposed to this in the hospital," said Dr. Srivastava.

As to California's mask mandate? State health officials confirmed to ABC7 news that they are still reviewing the CDC's guidance.

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