Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
podcast_1400-MiddayEdition.jpg
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

San Diego County To Wait Until June 15 To Ditch COVID-19 Mask Requirement

Speaker 1: 00:00 Masks will be required in San Diego County until at least mid June. In spite of new CDC guidance that all vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks. In most public places. County officials announced Monday, they will follow state guidelines and continue requiring face masks here. The reason to make sure everyone can access the COVID-19 vaccine and for businesses to prepare for the change. Joining me now to talk about the ongoing mask mandate is KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, Matt. Welcome. So state officials set a target date of June 15th for relaxing most COVID-19 restrictions, but that all hinges on infection rates continuing to trend down. Where does the state want those rates to be? Speaker 2: 00:45 You know, a state health officials, haven't given an actual number in terms of saying, you know, we want it to be below, you know, five people going to the hospital per 100,000. They haven't given specific numbers, but we just got an update from the state's top doctor this week, Dr. Galley. Um, and he said that, you know, the strain on the hospital system is continuing to be low cases are continuing to be low. So we're all heading the right direction. And then obviously we're seeing that state officials are now saying, Hey, June 15th, the date that we're going to reopen everything pretty much is also the date that those who are vaccinated, those masks can start coming off indoors and out. Speaker 1: 01:14 What are the current COVID-19 infection rates in the County? Speaker 2: 01:17 Yeah. COVID is not over. And that's what some are worried about. The people hearing this, you know, the, the CDC guidance saying that we don't have to wear masks for vaccine and hearing that COVID is over. It's definitely still happening. We're getting, you know, at least one to 200 new reported cases a day. And along with those cases, we know that obviously that there's a delay in the reporting, a little bit of a lag, but there are still deaths happening. Speaker 1: 01:36 You spoke to infectious disease experts about the decision to maintain mask requirements here. What did they have to say about that decision? Speaker 2: 01:44 Yeah. You know, um, I talked to a couple of, you know, one of them thought it was a wise decision. You know, we're not at herd immunity yet. We still have a ways to go. We're about two thirds of the way to our goal here in San Diego County. And, you know, state officials are saying, look, we think that these next four weeks basically gives everyone a chance, uh, who wants a vaccine to get a vaccine now, uh, we didn't hear them talking a lot about herd immunity. We've seen some people kind of take their foot off the gas pedal on that. That was the 75% of San Diego, uh, vaccinated who are eligible. Um, but they think that we can get there these infectious disease experts that I talked to. And also some are very happy that the state came out with this clarification because we saw last week, the CDC come out and say, Hey, if you're vaccinated, you don't have to wear a mask anymore. Now, obviously there's state rules and there's the local rules. Um, and some people forgot that, you know, even when you see these announcements coming down from Walmart or something like that, it says, you know, no masks except in areas where there's local rules apply and that's here in California. Um, and so they're glad that they put out those clarifications. Cause a lot of people are really, really confused, but you know, one infectious disease doctor, I talked to Dr. Christian Ramers over at family health centers. Um, he says, look, COVID is not over. Speaker 3: 02:48 There's actually been no change in the virus to look. I have four people in my clinic right now who are sick and coughing. I don't know if you can hear them from COVID. So there's still people getting sick. There's been no change to the way the virus, there's still people dying. Speaker 2: 03:00 You know, we're still at 600 deaths per day. So that, that's what I'm worried about with the methods that this is all over. It's really not over. And also to, you know, the, these changes don't just happen. Arbitrarily or random state officials say that they are following the science here. And because the only restriction that's still placed on those who are, are vaccinated or unvaccinated in terms of the masks is wearing them indoors. And that's because we know that COVID spreads a lot easier indoors. It can sit in a room that doesn't have good ventilation for a long time and can easily infect people. Or in terms of outdoor, the risk level goes way down. Speaker 1: 03:30 One of the reasons County officials say they are keeping the mask mandate is to allow for more people here to access the vaccine. How close is San Diego County to reaching its goal of hurting? Speaker 2: 03:42 There are about two thirds of the way there. So more than 60% of the goal. And right now that goal was readjusted, right? It was people who were aged 16 and over now it's people who are aged 12 and over, um, you know, who knows in the next four weeks, if that, if that goal or those goalposts change again, but that's the current goal, 75% of the population, uh, about two thirds of the way there. And over the next four weeks, you know, I mean the, the, the foot's already been down on the accelerator, so to speak in terms of trying to get people excited about the vaccine, trying to get people to get those shots, we've seen the demand going down. Now there's a lot of supply, so it can be done over the next four weeks, but it's, it's going to take a lot of effort to try to get to that 75%. Speaker 1: 04:17 And so for the next four weeks, where exactly will masks be required. Speaker 2: 04:21 So there's a whole infographic posted on the CDC website there that really shows you if you're unvaccinated, there are a lot more places where you do have to wear the masks, but currently the state guidance basically says for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, indoor public places. So that includes things like transit, uh, and in hospitals, um, they will have to wear those masks. Speaker 1: 04:40 And this morning, protesters from a group called reopened San Diego, we're at the County board of supervisors, meeting demanding to attend that in-person meeting without masks and without having their temperature taken. And this group is a group that has protested mask wearing almost since the beginning of the pandemic. But what's your sense of the mood here for County residents to continue to have to wear masks indoors? Speaker 2: 05:04 You know, this is all anecdotally, but I think a lot of people are very comfortable with their masks. You know, a lot of some people like, I don't know if you see when you're driving around, some people are wearing the masks while they're driving. I've done that before too. It's not necessarily because you know, you're wearing to protect yourself. You're just wearing it. Cause you kind of forget that it's on your face. Um, and I think, you know, talking to these infectious disease doctors as well, too, um, they sort of made a good point that, you know, even though when this mask mandate goes away, there still are, you know, maybe vulnerable people, maybe someone who just finished a chemotherapy for cancer treatment, um, or somebody who has some underlying conditions who maybe didn't get vaccinated and is still wearing that mask, not only to protect themselves, but to protect others. Speaker 2: 05:38 So I think when you see this go away, I think that there's still going to be a lot of people who are wearing masks. Now, obviously there's a large contingent of people who are, you know, just ready to rip that thing off their face, so to speak. But the other interesting piece is going to be, it's only for those who are fully vaccinated indoors. And the question is, how do we check that there's really no way to check that. Um, one other piece, you know, in San Diego, you asked the question earlier, um, you know, where will masks be required? Um, once that announcement came out last week, um, uh, the president made the announcement and then the CDC came out. Um, the DOD issued an order that, uh, military bases, uh, military installations, DOD facilities, um, if people are fully vaccinated, they no longer have to wear masks. And we know that last week, um, Naval base, San Diego, some others here in San Diego, they jumped right on that. So, um, if you work at a DOD installation in San Diego, many of those have relaxed the mask mandate for those who are vaccinated. Speaker 1: 06:29 Hmm. I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, Matt. Thank you so much. Thanks Jay.

Ways To Subscribe
MiddayEd_generic-new_SqPwWZs.jpg
San Diego County will follow the state's lead and wait until June 15 to align with federal guidance that no longer requires people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear face coverings, a county officials said Monday.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments