Update 7/16/21: A few days after this episode of “Civic” aired, Bay Area health officials made a joint recommendation that everyone wear masks in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, a change from the masking protocols outlined by the health officer in this interview. The officials cited an increase in COVID-19 cases and increased circulation of the delta variant. A press release from the San Francisco Department of Public Health indicated that the recommended approach also serves to ensure easy verification that unvaccinated people wear masks in indoor settings, and as an extra precautionary measure for everyone.
The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is now the dominant strain in the nation and has arrived in the Bay Area. Case numbers are surging in parts of the country with low vaccination rates, and, while San Francisco’s case numbers are slightly on the rise, most residents are vaccinated. Eighty-three percent of eligible people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 76% are fully vaccinated. But people under age 12 are not eligible yet, raising the question of what safety precautions to take when schools fully reopen. San Francisco will require all students to wear masks indoors, but not outdoors, while at school. Meanwhile, federal and state guidelines on school safety differ. Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s Health Officer, talked with “Civic” about the details of the current mask rules, the delta variant and the importance of vaccines.