COVID Surge: LA County Residents Again Ordered To Wear Masks Indoors
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego health officials say they are not following LA county's lead and are not reinstating mandatory mask requirements for people who are fully vaccinated. LA is seeing a disturbing surge in COVID cases for the last seven days. There have been more than 1000 new daily infections when California reopened a month ago, Las daily COVID case rate was under 200. The mask mandate will require fully vaccinated people to join unvaccinated people and wearing masks in indoor settings, including restaurants. San Diego has seen its daily case rate double in recent weeks, but officials say they are sticking with state and CDC guidelines, which don't require masks for the fully vaccinated. Johnnie Mae is Dr. Joel Wortham associate professor in the division of infectious diseases and global public health at UC San Diego school of medicine. Dr. Worth Ron, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me. The Delta variant is apparently causing this surge in cases in LA, but we've heard that the vaccines J and J Pfizer Moderna provide good protection for the vaccinated public from the variant. So why is Los Angeles saying vaccinated? People need to wear masks? Speaker 2: 01:16 Well, we still see people who are fully vaccinated with these various vaccines getting infected. And as we see, as people start going out more and more in the community and interacting with more and more people, even if you're vaccinated, your risk is becoming higher. So I know that when I go inside, I still mask up because this Delta variant is really a different beast from what was circulating previously. Speaker 1: 01:42 How so? How is it different? Well, Speaker 2: 01:44 It definitely seems to be, uh, more transmissible. Uh, we're seeing not only just faster rate of spread among, uh, unvaccinated populations, but also breakthrough infections in vaccinated people at a higher rate than you would expect, Speaker 1: 01:59 But isn't the larger issue of this mandate for vaccinated people being that vaccinated people are being asked in a way to make a sacrifice, to help slow COVID in the unvaccinated. Speaker 2: 02:09 Uh, yes. And we've been needing to make sacrifices throughout this pandemic. Importantly, a lot of the unvaccinated population can't get vaccinated yet. Anyone who's 12 and younger isn't eligible to get vaccinated and probably won't be eligible until late fall, early winter. So we definitely want to avoid seeing a larger scale spread among that group. Plus you have people who are resistant to getting vaccinated or just haven't been able to do it yet. So to protect all of those people, I think that's what the mask mandate, uh, in LA is serving. Also CDC guidelines never really gave us the opportunity to distinguish between who's vaccinated and who's not. So I don't believe that only vaccinated people have been taking off their masks, Speaker 1: 02:54 The CDC and the California state guidelines, they aren't recommending renewing mandates for the vaccinated. So I'm wondering, is Las move, is that good health policy or is it more of a message to the unvaccinated population? Speaker 2: 03:08 I think masking in general, in the presence of the Delta variant is good health policy. Now, whether or not it can be implemented is I think more of a political issue and a public health issue. Speaker 1: 03:18 San Diego does not have COVID case numbers anywhere near Las, but we've seen a doubling of daily cases since the beginning of July with averages over 200. So would you recommend San Diego consider a new mask mandate Speaker 2: 03:34 Because San Diego is numbers. Aren't where LA are today. Doesn't mean we're not going to get there in the coming weeks. Now with this new Delta variant and our, uh, admirably high vaccination rates in San Diego county, 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 to reach sort of a new, somewhat higher plateau that said, I see the value in masking. I continue to mask indoors and anyone who asks me, I would advise to mask the indoors, but I'm not here making policy Speaker 1: 04:05 Only 52% of LA county's residents are fully vaccinated. That's opposed to more than 68% of eligible San Diego ones. How much of a difference does that make in our susceptibility to the Delta and other variants of COVID? Speaker 2: 04:21 Well, we've seen the Delta variant rise in places like Israel, where they have very high vaccination and coverage, uh, with MRNs, uh, vaccines, similar to what we have in San Diego. But we also saw it spike in the UK where most people there are only had a single dose of the vaccine and it definitely went up a lot higher and faster there. So while I'll leave it to the modelers to predict the future, I am definitely concerned about what the Delta variant can do, even in a vaccinated population when we don't have social distancing or masking restrictions. Speaker 1: 04:54 Now, I hear you saying that you would advise people to wear masks, whether they're vaccinated or not in indoor settings, but isn't this all rather confusing when people hear one thing from one health agency and another thing from another health agency, if you do go into an indoor setting in San Diego and you are fully vaccinated and you don't wear a mask, do you really have a lot to worry about Speaker 2: 05:16 The good news is that the vaccine seems to protect you from serious complications of COVID like serious disease, hospitalization, and death. And that is the most important thing we can be worried about right now, but we also don't want to spread it to our fellow San Diego ones. So masking while a small sacrifice may benefit those who are unable to get vaccinated unwilling or who are immunocompromised, where the vaccine may not be as effective. So in that sense, it's us protecting our fellow San Diego. Speaker 1: 05:47 We've heard a lot of discussion on vaccine hesitancy, vaccines resistance. Do you think surges like this will have an impact on motivating to get vaccinated? Speaker 2: 05:58 I hope the increase in case counts right now, help wake people up to the reality of COVID. And it's dangerous to those who haven't been Baxendale because this Delta variant means that anyone who hasn't gotten a vaccine is even more at risk than they were before. And they need to seriously reconsider why they're not getting the vaccine. Speaker 1: 06:19 I've been speaking with Dr. Joel worth. I'm associate professor in the division of infectious diseases and global public health at UC San Diego school of medicine. Dr. Worth hon. Thanks a lot. Thank you for having me.