SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A group of San Diego County doctors is urging county public health officials to revise its stance on mask and vaccine mandates, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spike.
In a letter from the San Diego County Medical Society and Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, doctors asked San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten and other top officials to follow other counties in the state and reinstate an indoor mask mandate.
Doctors told ABC 10News anchor Lindsey Pena that seeing so many people going maskless in public as cases climb is concerning.
- San Diego County COVID-19 hospitalizations spike again
- Scripps Health delaying non-urgent procedures citing staffing shortage, climbing COVID cases
- FDA grants full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine
"For us, the best way to control this is either be vaccinated and wear a mask at least for right now, especially indoors because we know these things are transmitted in the air," said Dr. Will Tseng, a member of the San Diego County Medical Society.
Tseng and other sent the letter to the county on Monday, reading in part, "We call upon you to require indoor masking for all people regardless of vaccination status. We also call upon you to further safeguard our community by requiring vaccination for indoor dining, bars, gyms, and entertainment venues."
Tseng added that simply wearing a mask will radically cut down transmission rates.
"If you wear a mask you can decrease the risk of transmission from 66 percent down to 16 percent if you can wear a mask," Tseng said.
Later Wednesday, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency recommended that all San Diegans wear facial coverings in indoor public settings, but did not mention any mandate.
"Indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status, adds an additional layer of protection and reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19," said Wooten said in a release. "If you are not fully vaccinated yet, I urge you to get your shot now, so we can slow the spread of this more contagious strain of COVID-19."
Tseng said he and other doctors are troubled by the increase in COVID-19 patients and worry that hospitals and healthcare workers could become overwhelmed once again.
Compared to last month (7/20), the daily case count went from 521 to 1,498 just this weekend (8/21) in San Diego County. In the same period, the percentage of positive cases went from 5.1% to 8.7%.
"All physicians are alike in the sense that we want to make sure our patients do well and right now we're seeing them not do well, which concerns us," said Tseng.
Just last week, Los Angeles County became the first California county to reinstate a mask mandate at major outdoor events. California recently announced starting on Sept. 20, anyone attending an indoor event with more than 1,000 people must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the event to attend.