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California follows CDC, advises indoor masks for vaccinated

The announcement comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that fully vaccinated people mask up in public indoor settings.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Following the federal government's lead, California is recommending that people wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. 

Wednesday's announcement from the California Department of Public Health [CDPH] comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that fully vaccinated people mask up in public indoor settings in places where community spread is high or substantial. In a press release, Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer, said the recommendation comes on the heels of the Delta variant causing a "sharp increase in hospitalizations and case rates across the state." 

"We are recommending masking in indoor public places to slow the spread while we continue efforts to get more Californians vaccinated,” Aragón said. 

Sacramento business owners in DOCO say, if that's what it takes to keep their doors open, they're happy to comply. 

"If it gets to the point where we have to close back down, that’d be tragic, so if masks are brought back and enforced, then yeah, we’ll be wearing our masks too," said Jordan Kramer, the Flatstick Pub General Manager.

The Flatstick Pub, right around the corner from the Golden 1 Center, spent most of the pandemic in the dark, only months after officially opening for business. Kramer says that’s not a place they can afford to go back to. 

"I’m vaccinated so I’ve been lucky enough to not even catch the virus, I haven’t had any symptoms or anything like that so I’ve been somehow dodging a bullet even with working in the public. But yeah if masks get brought back, we’ll definitely be on board because we definitely need to stay open and want to stay open," he said.

Families like Bobbie Felt Armstrong and her 12-year-old grandson Odin, who are both fully vaccinated, told me they are happy to keep their masks too. 

"The mask doesn’t bother me that much, sometimes it is comfortable, and I would prefer, if it is uncomfortable, I would prefer to be uncomfortable than dead," said Odin Schultz, a fully vaccinated 12-year-old.

They say they've already had family friends get the Delta variant of the virus, even after being fully vaccinated, which is why they want to keep them on.

"That is up to the individual person, it’s not something that I would say, well you should have your mask on, that’s up to them if they want to have their mask on, I want to have mine on as a comfort zone for me," Armstrong said.

Dr. Dean Blumberg with the UC Davis Children’s Hospital says he wasn’t surprised to hear about this guidance from the state, given the surge in cases happening nationwide. 

"Its recognizing that we’re seeing increasing transmission due to the lockdowns being over so people are having more interactions with each other. And then predominantly the Delta variant being around, it accounts for more than 80% of circulating strains, and it’s twice as infectious as previous strains," Dr. Blumberg said.

Dr. Blumberg said that people who are fully vaccinated need to take this recommendation seriously.

"Although vaccines are the first line of defense against infection, they don’t work 100% of the time, so in order to further decrease transmission, even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors as a second line of defense," he said.

The new CDC guideline is a flip-flop from May, when federal officials said fully vaccinated people could ditch masks in most indoor places. 

California officials said more than 90% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents live in areas where community spread is now high or substantial. On Monday, July 26, Gov. Newsom announced California state workers, healthcare workers, and employees in “high-risk congregate settings” will now be required to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus at least once a week.

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