San Diego Infectious Disease Expert Advises Indoor Mask Wearing, Even If You're Vaccinated
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.