After restrictions across the state were lifted last month, COVID-19 cases are on the rise once again in California.
As some counties in the state reinstate mask mandates regardless of vaccine status, some people are left wondering if San Luis Obispo County is next. SLO County health officials have not said whether they are considering putting one into place.
When the California mask mandate was lifted statewide in June, for many, it felt like a symbol of a return to normalcy, but as vaccine rates taper off and COVID-19 cases rise, some residents are growing concerned.
"This is not over. Sorry, not over. Not with so many people refusing to get vaccinated," said San Luis Obispo County resident Laura Talmage.
Talmage says she is vaccinated and wishes others would do the same to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable populations.
One local doctor is encouraging people in close quarters to mask up.
"It's great to be vaccinated and it really is very, very protective, but if you're in a high-risk situation indoors, close quarters, people that may not be vaccinated, the mask just adds that little extra layer of protection that if you're a vulnerable patient is a very good idea," said Brian Roberts, medical director at Med+Stop Urgent Care.
Roberts does not think a reinstatement of the mask mandate is necessary for San Luis Obispo County at this time, but he hopes the community will continue to follow CDC guidelines.
"I don't personally think it's necessary but I am not an epidemiologist. It's all about protecting the vulnerable people amongst us," said Roberts.
Some residents say they would be okay with a mask mandate reinstatement.
"If the mandate starts again, I am totally OK wearing a mask again if it's to protect other people," said San Luis Obispo County resident Gil Baraga.
But others say they’d be disappointed, feeling as if they have already rounded the corner and do not want to take another step back.
"Yes, I would be extremely upset. For the comfort level and it just seems like they are pushing it a little too far," said San Luis Obispo County resident Dodie Champion.
Champion says there are a number of reasons another mask mandate would upset her, including her granddaughter having to wear a mask at school.
"In third grade she had to wear a mask for six hours every day and she really was sad also because she couldn't play with her friends out on the playground," Champion said.
Another San Luis Obispo woman says she's glad she was able to finally get the vaccine.
"I had to wait so long, I'm an at-risk person because I have asthma, I had to wait so long to get my vaccine and I see people who are much younger waiting so long to get their vaccine and I don't understand why people don't," Talmage said.
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