Bay Area counties waiting on state to update mask guidance after CDC announcement

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Saturday, May 15, 2021
Bay Area counties waiting on state for update on mask guidance
Bay Area counties are on standby as California's Department of Public Health reviews the new CDC mask guidance.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Bay Area counties are on standby as California's Department of Public Health reviews the new CDC mask guidance.

"While a county can be more restrictive than the state we cannot be more lenient than the state. We look to the state to understand what that baseline looks like," said Marin County Public Information Officer Laine Hendricks.

EXPLAINER: What fully vaccinated people can, cannot do according to CDC's new mask guidelines

Marin County says they are close to herd immunity with 85% of their residents vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine. But their hands are tied to make any changes.

Luz Pena: "What is Marin County's plan?"

Laine Hendricks: "At this point our mask guidelines have not changed. When people leave their home in most cases they should have their masks on at all times. The only exception are those that are fully vaccinated when they are outdoors can go without a mask expect if they are in a crowded area like a sporting event."

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia sits on the Executive Board of the California State Association of Counties.

"There's been a little ambiguity coming out of the state about what their plan may be in light of the CDC decision. I think it's likely that they are going to change within a few days," said Supervisor Gioia.

For now Supervisor Giogia says every county will keep its mask mandate. Over the phone Santa Clara County's Public Information officer said that they've been waiting the whole day on the state to find out what to do next.

RELATED: CDC eases mask-wearing for vaccinated, but Bay Area health official says not so fast

Alameda County officials voicing concern when residents are in crowded places. Their mask mandate also still in effect.

Over the winter, California was the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Now we have the lowest case rate in the country. So what's holding us back?

UCSF's infectious disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi says California is being cautious. But she says the data is clear.

RELATED: SF business owners, employees wary of CDC's new mask-wearing guidance

"I think it is very safe because masks are a tool and vaccines are a solution. Once you have the solution you don't need the tool," said Dr. Gandhi.

Dr. Gandhi says the CDC reviewed several research studies before making this decision proving that vaccines are effective.

"Even against variants vaccines are 88% and up to 90% and in one study up to 100% effective against severe disease," Dr. Gandhi added that the CDC also based their recommendation after reviewing a second piece of data that stated that vaccinated people, "it's very unlikely for them to transmit the virus."

What concerns Dr. Gandhi now is people who've been fully vaccinated getting themselves mentally prepare to remove the mask.

Statement by San Francisco COVID Command Center:

"We are still waiting on the state's guidance, which could come very soon. The CDC's announcement that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in certain indoor settings is great news because it further underscores the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine in driving down cases and preventing community spread. As we recently did with the new guidance on outdoor masking for fully vaccinated people, we must wait for the state to adopt the updated guidelines before making changes to the local health order that we consider safe.

We know people are eager to shed their masks and the quickest way we can arrive at a place where it is safe to do so, is for every eligible person to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Appointments are widely available throughout the City. The longer you wait to get vaccinated, the greater the risk of contracting and becoming severely ill from COVID-19 or spreading it to a friend, loved one or co-worker. If we all get vaccinated, we can continue to reopen our city and look forward to a great summer."

Statement by Alameda County Public Health Department:

"Our local orders are aligned with the State and we currently follow their direction on masks.

COVID-19 continues to circulate at moderate levels in our communities and more than half of Alameda County residents, including children, are not fully vaccinated. We advise people to continue to protect each other by wearing masks, especially in crowded environments, if they don't know the vaccination status of those around them.

To protect Alameda County workers, all workplaces must continue to follow Cal/OSHA's standards, including current masking requirements. Alameda County can't be less restrictive."

VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

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