Immunocompromised San Diegans worry lifting state mask mandate will put their community at risk

Shopping masks
Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 01:01:52-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Donna Saracho had a liver transplant 11 years ago. Wearing a mask is a way of life for her.

"We're susceptible to basically anything like the common cold or more serious things like COVID," said Saracho.

Like most transplant patients, Saracho takes medication that compromises her immune system, putting her at high risk for COVID complications. The county estimates roughly 26,000 San Diegans are immunocompromised.

"It really is a lifestyle, wearing a mask," said Saracho.

Monday the governor announced the indoor mask mandate will be lifted on February 15th for people who are vaccinated. Health officials say Omicron cases are down 65% since the surge, but doctors say the infection rates are still high.

RELATED: California will lift mask mandate as omicron cases fall

"I would probably prefer case rates were lower before we stop the indoor mask mandate. At the same time, we are at the point in the pandemic we are trying to identify what is our new normal given that Covid is going to be with us," said Dr. Lucy Horton an infectious disease specialist at UCSD Health.

Dr. Horton said everyone should use common sense, gathering outside instead of inside whenever possible, but especially people who are considered high risk.

"They need to be really careful would still urge to mask in indoor places avoid large crowds omicron is still going on even though it is improving," said Dr. Horton.

People who are not vaccinated are still supposed to wear a mask indoors, it's up to each establishment to enforce.

"I am concerned and that’s because honestly, I’ve had patients disclose to me that they’ve done that themselves, they’re not vaccinated and they went into stores and restaurants," said Dr. Horton.

Even though she's at high risk, Saracho doesn't push mask mandates.

"I think that we’re all able to make those decisions on our own."