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San Diego Infectious Disease Expert Advises Indoor Mask Wearing, Even If You’re Vaccinated

In this July 1, 2021, file photo visitors wear masks as they walk in a shoppi...

Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Above: In this July 1, 2021, file photo visitors wear masks as they walk in a shopping district, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

What we thought was a simple picture - no mask wearing in most public places - is getting more complicated by the day thanks to the quickly spreading Delta variant.

San Diego County isn't following Los Angeles County's lead in requiring masks be worn indoors by everyone, including the vaccinated - yet.

Listen to this story by John Carroll.

But the numbers here are concerning; rates have been above 200 a day for the last 8 days. On Thursday, 428 new infections were reported.

“Just because San Diego’s numbers aren’t where L.A.’s are today doesn’t mean we’re not gonna get there in the coming weeks," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Joel Wertheim of the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

“I see the value in masking, I continue to mask indoors and anyone who asks me, I would advise to mask indoors," Wertheim told KPBS Midday Edition on Friday.

RELATED: COVID Surge: LA County Residents Again Ordered To Wear Masks Indoors

As has been the case since the beginning of this pandemic, what to do about children and young adults in school has been a vexing problem. The University of California system said Thursday all students must be vaccinated to return to class this fall. The CSU system seems to be heading in that direction, but has yet to issue a system-wide mandate.

Guidance for K-12 schools in the state has been confusing. The state first said all students must wear masks when they return to class, but later appeared to walk that back by saying they’d leave enforcement up to the discretion of local districts.

The Alpine Union School District is interpreting that to mean it’s up to them whether students have to wear masks, and earlier this week, the school board voted to make it optional, the only school district in San Diego County to do so.

Reported by John Carroll

Alpine Superintendent Dr. Rich Newman told KPBS that their district is unique. It’s small, a bit more than 1,500 students, and Newman said all of their classrooms have been retrofitted with the latest air purification systems. Newman also said his district has strict contact tracing protocols in place.

But Dr. Wertheim is concerned.

"We don’t know where this is going to go in the future. We don’t know if our numbers are going to continue to double or reach sort of a new, somewhat higher plateau.”

RELATED: California Changes Course On Schools Enforcing Mask Mandate

All this just six weeks after California lifted restrictions, reopening to what many thought would be a summer that would look something like the old normal. But, it seems COVID, with the many challenges it presents, isn’t done with us yet.

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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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