Bay Area doctor lists 4 main reasons why he believes everyone should mask indoors again

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Bay Area doctor lists 4 reasons people should mask indoors again
A USCF doctor explains why he believes everyone should be wearing masks indoors again, regardless of vaccination status.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Coronavirus cases nationwide have tripled in the past month to more than 35,000 per day. That has more health officials reconsidering mask mandates until more people get vaccinated.

California now has the 17th highest COVID-19 case rate in the country, according to COVID Act Now.

RELATED: CA's timeline to reach herd immunity 'delayed past the fall' due to delta variant, doctors say

Two weeks after the state reopened in June, the rolling average of new cases in the Bay Area went up. As a result, many California counties have recommended, or even mandated, that people, even if they're fully vaccinated, wear a mask indoors.

"I think it can be a little confusing for sure," said Los Angeles resident, Cambria Garell.

And she's not the only one who feels that way, given that two months ago, the CDC said vaccinated people could drop their masks in most situations.

"I think it's kind of confusing and contradicting. I just keep mine on because my workplace requires me to," said a woman who works in the Bay Area.

VIDEO: Doctor explains your chances of contracting coronavirus after vaccination

New numbers help put into perspective what the chances are of getting COVID-19 after being vaccinated, and just how risky it is.

"I just go on the side of caution and use a mask anyway, but the way they lay it out is kind of confusing," said San Francisco resident, James Wheeler.

"It feels confusing because it's confusing. The rules are changing even as we speak," agreed Dr. Bob Wachter, who is chair of the UCSF department of medicine.

Dr. Wachter thinks its makes sense for everyone to wear a mask indoors for four main reasons:

1. The Delta variant is twice as infectious.

"That makes it much more risky to do exactly the same activity that you had done a month ago."

2. More unmasked people, means there is more virus in the air.

"When I go into a place, let's say the supermarket, and there are people not wearing masks, I have no way of telling whether they're vaccinated or unvaccinated."

3. There are more breakthrough infections. And while it's highly unlikely a vaccinated person will be hospitalized, the possibility of long hauler symptoms are unclear.

"I don't know for sure that I may not develop persistent headaches or brain fog."

4. Stop transmission

"I don't want to catch it and then inadvertently spread it to a kid or a person I run into who's on chemotherapy for cancer, or someone who's unvaccinated."

Dr. Wachter does think it's safe to be unmasked indoors with a small group you know are fully vaccinated.

"I think that's a reasonable thing to do. It's not a zero risk thing, but it's a very, very low risk thing," he said.

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