The World Health Organization is now urging immunized people to continue wearing masks and practicing social distance because of a new coronavirus variant.
The highly-contagious Delta variant is spurring new surges across the world and with tourism expected to bounce back this summer, cases could go up in the Bay Area.
“For unvaccinated folks, this is probably one of the most dangerous times to be in,” said UCSF Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.
The words “Delta variant” do not spark fear in 21-year-old Angelica Ayala of Hayward.
“I’m not vaccinated,” she said. “I’m honestly not too concerned. I just don’t like to put my energy there.”
The more contagious variant of the coronavirus is gaining ground around the world and spreading rapidly in California among unvaccinated people, accounting for 20% of new cases.
“If you’re unvaccinated, you’re going to be confronting a virus that is better at its job than what you would have confronted a year ago,” said UCSF Dr. Bob Wachter.
He believes that within a month, the Delta variant will become the majority strain. The good news – the vaccines work well against it. But with tourism expected to bounce back this summer, the two infectious disease experts say, the vaccinated shouldn’t ditch the mask yet.
“I think it is actually prudent to continue wearing masks inside,” said Wachter.
“If you’re in a crowded area, personally, I will continue to wear a mask,” said Chin-Hong. “Think Costco Saturday morning.”
He doesn’t believe there will be a big surge in cases here thanks to the Bay Area’s high vaccination rate, but he stresses this is a risky time for anyone who is unvaccinated or immunocompromised.
“It's still nerve-wracking in a sense not knowing where people are coming from,” Chin-Hong said.
“I know my immune system is strong and whatever happens, happen,” said Ayala.
Wachter says if you’re vaccinated, indoors and you know that everyone around you is vaccinated, then it’s safe to ditch the mask.