Bay Area public health officer 'relieved' to have 4 week buffer to change mask mandate

Luz Pena Image
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Bay Area official 'relieved' CA is waiting to take masks off
Here's why one Bay Area health official is "relieved" to have four more weeks of preparation before California eases it's mask mandate.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After mounting pressure, and nearly a week after the CDC's mask guidance, California's Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said Monday nothing will change in our state until June 15th.

"This four week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change, while we continue the relentless focus on delivering vaccines, particularly to underserved communities and those that were hard hit throughout this pandemic," said Dr. Ghaly.

Dr Ghaly said they reviewed the evidence by the CDC and agree with the science, but California needs more time. Currently over 50 % of California's have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine.

RELATED: CA to begin following the new CDC indoor mask guidelines starting June 15

"To put it in context, 568,000 Americans died out of 328 million before we had the vaccines. Now, there is a 1 in a million change that you would get sick from COVID-19 based on their breakthrough infections. These vaccines are so good," said UCSF's Infectious Disease Specialist and Professor of Medicine, Dr. Monica Gandhi.

Dr. Gandhi has advised the Biden Administration on when to lift national mask rules, so we asked her.

Luz: "Do you feel like CA could've followed the CDC's mask guidance today?"

Dr. Gandhi: "They could've based on our low case rate and our high vaccination rate. However, people were not ready and that is fine too. It's very hard for businesses to decide how they are going to enforce things."

Marin County's health officer, Dr. Matt Willis is glad there's a 4-week buffer.

"I'm relieved the state has recognized that. We in Marin County have some of the highest vaccination rates in the state and we ourselves don't feel ready," said Dr. Willis.

Here's why Dr. Willis says that timeline is essential, "We've made a lot of progress in vaccines over the past 5-10 weeks. Every day that passes we have more people coming into that status of full immunity where they are actually protected. Now we are in mid-May and really the only people who are fully vaccinated, are those who were vaccinated before the end of March."

VIDEO: CDC director defends decision to ditch masks

Martha Raddatz interviews Dr. Rochelle Walensky on "This Week."

In San Francisco, where 60% of the population is fully vaccinated, they are gearing to change their vaccine strategy

Luz Pena: "What will San Francisco do during these 4 weeks?

Susan Philip, San Francisco's Health Officer: "Some of the things that are being done is provide door-to-door invitations to get vaccine in neighborhoods where we know that there is a lower rate of vaccination."

Dr. Philips says San Francisco would've been ready to lift its mask mandate but their hands are tied.

"The CDC puts put guidance and they give us the guidance for the whole country. They have access to all the data and they follow the science and put it out," Dr. Philips said and added, "They don't have any legal authority so what the CDC says is not law. However what CDPH, what the state says is law. Across California and so counties cannot be any less strict than the state."

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