LATEST July 16, noon San Francisco was among six other Bay Area counties and one city to release a joint statement Friday calling on everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, to wear masks in indoor public places. This is a recommendation and not a requirement.
Read our full story on the advisory issued by Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma and the city of Berkeley.
July 16, 7:30 a.m. Los Angeles County was the first California region Thursday to reinstitute a mandatory indoor mask requirement for all residents, regardless of their vaccination status against COVID-19, as COVID-19 cases increase due to the more contagious case delta variant.
Yolo and Sacramento counties are now recommending that all individuals, even those who are fully vaccinated, wear face coverings in public indoor settings.
San Francisco residents may be wondering, is the city next?
“We are considering, basically, providing guidance on suggested mask-wearing in certain instances,” Mayor London Breed said Thursday in a press conference with reporters. “We do ask that people who are not vaccinated, when they go indoors, that they wear masks and those that are vaccinated we don’t necessarily have a mask requirement further than that, but we are looking at a change to the policy, but not necessarily a mandate.”
With this news, the city also released a statement sounding the alarm bells and encouraging all eligible residents to get vaccinated. In the city, 83% of the eligible population have received at least one dose and 76% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated as of July 13.
Over the week ending July 7, average daily new cases increased more than fourfold to 42 new cases per day day from a low of 9.9 cases per day on June 19, according to city officials.
The city didn’t indicate how many of those cases were in unvaccinated individuals, but Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor at UCSF, said 99% of those who are in the hospital with COVID across the country are unvaccinated (including the 19 in San Francisco). “The most important thing to know about delta is that unvaccinated are susceptible,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi said she doesn’t think a new mask requirement is necessary at the moment.
“I don’t because I am very convinced that the approach by our top ID doctor (Dr. Fauci) in the country and the CDC is taking is sound,” Dr. Gandhi wrote in an email. “They are very clear that they do not intend to recommend masks for the vaccinated countrywide (White House task force briefing July 8 21:33) but that we should focus on vaccination efforts and outbreak management with surge testing, treatment and vaccination for places in the country with high hospitalization rates among the unvaccinated.”
UCSF infections disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, on the other hand, said that he thinks that with travelers coming into the Bay Area from other parts of the country and with different levels of circulating virus and vaccination rates, it makes increasing sense to don masks indoors, particularly as cases rise locally.
“The point is that we want to protect the unvaccinated as there are increasing reports of vaccinated persons getting infected,” Chin-Hong said. “This is still a rare circumstance, and vaccinated persons will rarely get ill after infection, but nonetheless a moving target. It would still be a bummer (school, work missed) to even get infected as a vaccinated person and anxiety provoking so wearing that mask indoors is not a bad idea for an intervention that is cheap and doesn’t hurt.”