Should mask mandates return? Why Bay Area Doctors Say We’re Better With Recommendations, For Now

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — It will be a busy weekend with people from across the Bay Area celebrating Easter and Passover. For many, this will be the first unrestricted gathering in years.

But doctors want to remind everyone that COVID-19 is still a dangerous threat.

“The recommendations really haven’t changed,” said ABC7 News special correspondent Dr. Alok Patel. “If you gather with people this weekend, like any other gathering, you want to make sure that the people around you are not symptomatic, that they have not been recently exposed and especially to know if everyone around you has been vaccinated because this is the best way to prevent transmission.”

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Transmission has seen a recent increase across the country, and Bay Area numbers are not immune.

Our ABC7 COVID-19 tracker shows the Bay Area‘s seven-day rolling average is 1,171.5 new daily cases according to the latest state data.

That number is up from around 500 new cases last month.

But the number the experts want us to focus on is hospitalizations.

“We in all of California and the Bay Area are in the community level green zone of COVID-19 by the CDC, which means we are in a very good place with low severe disease and low hospitalizations, UCSF Infectious Diseases specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi said.

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The CDC changed its parameters in February, defining the community level of COVID based on the number of hospitalizations.

Going back to our ABC7 statistics, the number of patients in hospitals is down from last month.
“Before, cases and hospitalizations mirrored each other,” Dr Gandhi said. “Now, essentially with high levels of immunity with vaccination and natural immunity, our hospitalizations remain low even with an increase in cases across the United States.”

These rising cases have prompted some cities to reinstate mask mandates, but should we?

Our experts say local health officials should recommend properly fitted, filtered masks as needed, but mandates should remain irrelevant as long as hospitalizations remain low.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

“It is entirely possible that we will see new recommendations coming out in the next couple of weeks if BA.2 cases continue to rise,” Dr Patel said. “But, I really don’t see a mandate coming back into place in hospitalizations or serious cases, which we don’t have right now.”

That said, Dr Patel says hospitalizations have tracked the rise in cases in the past.

So be careful, COVID-19 is still with us this holiday weekend.

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