Just when you thought it was safe go out in public without a mask, residents in five states are being told they may have to don their face coverings once again.
Yes, that means the vaccinated among them as well.
As the COVID-19 Delta variant spreads, some local communities are asking — or ordering — residents to return to wearing face coverings in public, whether vaccinated or not. Other communities are considering implementing such advisories.
States with authorities either making these requests now or considering doing so include the following.
Several counties in the Golden State have asked all residents to wear masks in public locations. For example, in the Bay Area, just one county — Solano County — does not have a mask advisory. In Los Angeles County, residents are required to wear a mask when in indoor public spaces.
In Clark County, Nevada — home to Las Vegas — employees of businesses are required to wear masks while working in indoor public spaces as of this week. The mandate will remain in place at least through Aug. 17.
Officials say hospitals are filling up with coronavirus patients, and county leaders need time and space to try to boost the county’s low vaccination rate.
A sharp rise in new COVID-19 cases in New Orleans has officials weighing whether to reinstate a mask mandate.
Thus far, nothing has been decided. But a spokesman for the city’s mayor said rules involving masks are “certainly a strong possibility.”
In Provincetown, Massachusetts, officials have issued a new mask advisory as COVID-19 cases rise. People are being asked to wear masks in indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
It appears that an outbreak of some 130 cases following July 4 celebrations triggered the new advisory. And in a troubling development that is being repeated elsewhere, many of those who tested positive were fully vaccinated.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told CNBC he hopes to avoid reinstating a mask mandate. He would like to continue to push for more residents to become vaccinated instead.
But he admits rising COVID-19 rates could force his hand:
“For the time being, I hope we don’t have to do that. If we have to, we will.”
Why do vaccinated people have to wear masks?
If you are wondering why vaccinated people need to return to covering their faces, join the club.
Everyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the White House has at some point said that you do not need to wear face coverings if you are fully protected against the virus.
But others disagree. Dr. Bob Wachter, a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, offered seven reasons to SFGATE as to why vaccinated people should return to wearing masks.
Wachter’s list ranges from the small but real risk of a breakthrough infection (meaning an infection in someone who has been vaccinated) to the fact that the vaccine’s protective effect might be waning for those who were vaccinated many months ago.
As he told SFGATE:
“I’m still comfortable going maskless in a small social gathering when I’m 100% sure everyone is vaccinated, or 100% sure that any unvaccinated person is wearing a mask. I don’t know how I can be sure about the latter, and even the former is tricky unless it’s a small, trusted group.”