SAN DIEGO — A new recommendation from the CDC says teachers and students can ditch their masks in the classroom, a move which comes as COVID-19 vaccination numbers continue to grow nationwide. But Californians should hold onto their face coverings.
State health officials said Friday that California will continue to mandate masks be worn indoors in school settings, citing limitations for schools to accommodate social distancing recommendations.
In San Diego County, Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher continues to push for all San Diegans to get fully vaccinated. Fletcher noted the county is recovering “incredibly well” as pandemic restrictions eased, but he urged residents to complete their coronavirus vaccines as 140,000 people county-wide remain without a second dose.
“If you have not gotten your first dose, please do,” he said.
Fletcher said 80% of the county has received their first dose, while 68% are fully vaccinated. Since March 1, unvaccinated residents make up 95% of the COVID-19 cases in the county, 96% of deaths and 98% of all hospitalizations, he said.
It’s a message heard time and time again, and a message that has worked for 70% of San Diegans. But what about the other 30%?
“At this point, just about everyone has heard all the messages,” said campaign specialist Jason Cabel Roe, who specializes in helping politicians during elections. “I think if there’s one message we haven’t heard a lot of is that it’s free. I don’t think it’s emphasized in a lot of messaging I see.”
Cabel Roe says this whole vaccine push is starting to feel a little like an election, too.
“You’re down to the end of a campaign here and a lot of undecided voters and you got to figure out how to convert those undecided voters,” he said.
Fletcher also said the county has reported 54 delta variant cases. Out of the 54 delta variant cases, Fletcher said more than 90% involved people who are unvaccinated.
By August, it is expected to be the dominant variant in the county, he said.
Dr. Eric McDonald, San Diego County’s Chief Medical Officer, said one shot of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines were not as effective against the delta variant as they were against previous strains.
“Ideally you want to get it on time, but if it has been one month, two months, four months, it will still be more effective,” he said. “The first shot isn’t enough for the delta variant.”
Dr. Hans Crumpler, a physician at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, urged those skeptical of the shots to get more information from medical experts.
“Come to your provider if you have any doubts or questions, we are there to educate you,” he said. “Get the vaccine as readily as you can. It’s going to give you side effects, but they are far preferable to getting the virus.”
From Cabel Roe’s experience, he says people tune out the press conferences and articles after a while, but feel most motivated to get off the fence when they are reached out to directly.
“If they started getting mailings specifically that stated you haven’t been vaccinated yet, it’s time to do it, or you’re one of the last people in your community, then I think that sort of pressure of knowing or believing that someone is watching you might move people to get the vaccination,” he said.