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San Diego County Recommends Masks Indoors Regardless Of Vaccination Status

AP Photo / Denis Poroy
Masked students wait to be taken to their classrooms at Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School in Chula Vista, California, July 21, 2021.
After weeks of insisting that those who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus infection could safely go without face coverings in most situations, public health officials in San Diego County have reversed course, recommending mask-wearing indoors for everyone.

After weeks of insisting that those who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus infection could safely go without face coverings in most situations, public health officials in San Diego County have reversed course, recommending mask-wearing indoors for everyone.

The announcement came late Tuesday afternoon, hours after a comparable change in national policy was put into effect by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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"New research reveals the Delta variant is much more transmissible and expected to lead to a growing number of cases in vaccinated individuals while primarily striking the unvaccinated," San Diego County health officials stated, adding that they were following "the latest CDC guidance in recommending the universal wearing of masks by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings."

The local officials called protective face coverings "an added measure," while stressing that coronavirus vaccinations "are critical for getting back to the things we love."

The CDC's revised guidelines recommend mask-wearing indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in areas experiencing "high" or "substantial" COVID-19 transmission. San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties all fall into that category, according to the federal agency.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced the change, describing the Delta variant as "uniquely different from past strains of the virus that causes COVID-19."

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Walensky called rapid spread of the variant "worrisome" and said its behavior "warrants an update to our recommendations."

Earlier this month, Los Angeles County implemented a mask-wearing mandate in indoor public settings for everyone, citing spiking cases attributed to spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Mask-wearing has remained a requirement indoors across California for unvaccinated people. However, enforcement of the requirement was based largely on a kind of honor system, making it uncertain if unvaccinated residents were abiding by the rule.

On Tuesday, San Diego County health officials reported five additional COVID-related deaths and 741 new cases, while the number of people hospitalized grew by 24, including two more patients in intensive care.

To increase access to COVID-19 vaccines, the county is now operating the Great Eight, a collection of geographically distributed no-cost vaccination sites that allow people to choose any one of the three vaccines available in the United States, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. For a list of locations and more information, visit www.coronavirus-sd.com/vaccine.

Video: San Diego County Recommends Masks Indoors Regardless Of Vaccination Status