mask mandate

San Diego County COVID Transmission Higher Than LA's. Masks the Difference?

A San Diego doctor recommends indoor masking because it likely helped decrease LA County’s COVID transmission rate

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists San Diego County’s COVID transmission rate as worse than Los Angeles County's, which is, of course, a much larger region. In fact, San Diego currently has a positivity rate twice as high as LA’s.

Dr. Abisola Olulade of Sharp HealthCare credits LA's mask mandate with helping to bring its case numbers down.

Amid health concerns due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, San Diego County has extended its local health emergency. NBC 7’s Audra Stafford explains what this means for us.

“It's important to protect yourself and that is the recommendation, by wearing a mask indoors at this time because we are seeing those higher levels that we can expect to only go even higher,” Dr. Olulade said.

Last week, San Diego County health officials reported a spike in COVID cases that nearly doubled within a couple days. They believe the increase is tied to Thanksgiving gatherings.

NBC 7 asked county officials if they had discussions about implementing a mask mandate, considering the spike in cases, but San Diego County spokesman Michael Workman said no change in restrictions is anticipated at this time.

“We expected a bump after Thanksgiving," Workman said. "We will continue to follow CDPH guidelines and continue to monitor our numbers closely. Change is always possible but the best way to control our positive cases is still vaccination."

The county requires masks on public transportation, in schools and in health care settings. Everyone is encouraged to wear masks, but only the unvaccinated are required to wear one indoors.

The county hit an all-time high positivity rate in January, then cases dramatically dropped as vaccines became more widely available. Once the county fully reopened in June, cases began to spike again, and then, after vaccine mandates were announced, there was another decline.

“I think we should consider having ... making sure that people are wearing masks indoors," Olulade said. "I think it is a big consideration that we have to make. I don't think that you should wait for any sort of mandate.”

But pandemic fatigue is real, and many just want to get back to a normal life without being forced to get a shot or wear a mask.

County officials said there’s no threshold San Diego would have to reach for any additional restrictions to be implemented, but the authorities are monitoring the metrics and will revisit changes if necessary.

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