BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Just one month after reopening many Californians are now wondering if they'll have to start wearing masks again. This comes as cases of the COVID Delta variant spike here and around the state.
It was on April 2, 2020, when the California Department of Public Health recommended masking up when in public spaces. At the same time, several Bay Area counties adopted mandatory mask mandates. Then on June 18, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom first implemented a mandatory mask mandate around the state.
In Kern County, mask use didn't catch on quite as quickly. The Kern County Sheriff's Office said its department would not respond to calls about people going maskless or holding large gatherings in their homes at the height of the pandemic.
Then in March of this year, Governor Newsom announced a reopening date for the state: June 15th. That was a month ago when the economy reopened and masks went away. At the time, Governor Newsom said he hoped Californians would act on the honor system and continue wearing masks if they weren't vaccinated.
But today the state could be looking at another round of mask rules.
Los Angeles County to restores indoor mask mandate for all
According to the Associated Press, Los Angeles County’s public health officer says a rapid and sustained increase in COVID-19 cases in the nation’s largest county requires a return to mandatory mask-wearing indoors even when people are vaccinated. Dr. Muntu Davis told a virtual press conference Thursday that a public health order requiring masks indoors will go into effect Saturday. He didn’t detail what he said would be some exceptions.
Davis says the county has been recording more than 1,000 new cases each day for a week and that there is now “substantial community transmission.”
San Francisco Bay Area health officials are urging residents to again wear masks inside public buildings, offices or businesses regardless of whether they are vaccinated. The counties of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sonoma and the city of Berkeley stopped short of requiring masks indoors. But they said Friday that wearing them will ensure all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings.
San Diego County will not recommend residents wear masks in public
However, San Diego County will not recommend residents wear masks in public like Los Angeles County is. Their board of supervisors said they will continue to follow guidance issued from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully vaccinated people can safely go without masks indoors.
Where does this leave Kern County?
“At this time, we have no intention to step outside of what the state’s recommendations are," said Kern County Public Health spokesperson Michelle Corson. "We are indeed watching our local numbers climb. We expected to see some of this when the economy reopened back in June and we’re coming off of a holiday. We did expect to see some increases.”
Jim Zervis, the chief operations officer for Kern County, says the county will work closely with Kern County Public Health to ensure the safety of the community. As of Friday, Kern County Public Health announced 116 new COVID-19 cases, one new death, and three new cases of the Delta variant bringing the total amount of cases to six.
Covering Kern County
Kern COVID-19 tracker: 158,270 total cases, 1,828 deaths, 150,950 recovered
Public health says they will continue to follow the state’s guidance and offer this advice.
"Here in Kern County we continue to ask our community to ask our community to adhere to the state’s guidelines on masking,” said Corson.
After LA County announced they are changing their mask guidance Thursday residents were wondering if Kern County would be next.
“I think if the cases are going up I agree with it. Even right now I was wearing mine, so it’s not a problem with me,” said Bakersfield resident David Ayla.
Bakersfield resident Monica Rangel says she thinks masks should still be required regardless of vaccination status.
“I think everyone should. I’ve been in the medical field for over 40 years and still, I’m talking to doctors and they feel that it should be. And I wear my mask all the time and I’m vaccinated.”
Mike Barbour however says he’s glad to not be wearing a mask and wishes everyone would get vaccinated.
“If we can get back to a herd immunity which is where we’re heading right? Obviously, if everyone was vaccinated that might make a huge difference.”
But if you are not vaccinated, Kern County Public Health says it’s important to continue masking up.
“If our residents continue to follow the state’s guidance and those that are unvaccinated, if they do the right thing and they wear a mask indoors as the state’s guidance indicates they should, that is really going to make a difference for our community and really slow the spread of this disease.”
Corson also says that in addition to vaccinations it’s important to continue staying home if you’re sick, social distance if you can, and to continue doing common sense things to help slow the spread of COVID-19.