San Joaquin County health officials ask residents to mask-up regardless of vaccination status

Local News

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – San Joaquin County is joining other California counties that are issuing new mask recommendations.

The recommendations come as the number of infections and hospitalizations are quickly rising in the county as delta variant cases spread. 

Resident Andrea Songey-Neff told FOX40 Wednesday that she was frustrated but not surprised to learn San Joaquin County Public Heath Services is recommending everyone wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.

“It’s pretty terrible to be honest. I was really looking forward to getting my mask off and being able to go back to normal, but things aren’t normal. And so, we have to do what we need to do,” Songey-Neff said. “If a business mandates that you wear a mask, you need to wear a mask or go shopping somewhere else.”

The new mask suggestion comes as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has more than doubled from 25 on July 1 to 56 as of Tuesday.

Cases of the highly infectious delta variant are also on the rise and the county reported its first case of a delta-plus variant called AY.2.

As of Wednesday, public health officials said not much is known about that AY.2 variant.

“Sadly, we have too many people who are unvaccinated who are riding on the coattails of the people who are vaccinated and not wearing masks, and when they do that. This is what happens,” Songey-Neff said.

County public health officials say, whether it’s disposable or re-useable, they are hoping people will mask up again as an added layer of protection. 

Pharmacist Bill Nguyen told FOX40 he believes it will be even harder this time around trying to convince the public to put their masks back on.

“If it’s not for yourself than it’s for others, you know, as a sign of respect and that we care about each other,” Nguyen said.

Public health officials say the best protection against COVID-19 is vaccination but add, while vaccinated people are protected and likely won’t experience severe illness if they do contract COVID-19, they can still spread it to others. 

“If not now, it’s going to get worse in the future and then the worst-case scenario will be a lock down again,” Nguyen explained. “We don’t want that, and no one wants that.”

“We can’t go back to that. There’s a huge economic cost to our country and to our community, and we are just starting to try and bounce back,” Songey-Neff said.

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