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Mask mandate reinstated in San Luis Obispo County

COVID-19 mask generic
Posted at 5:40 AM, Sep 01, 2021

An indoor mask mandate is now in effect for San Luis Obispo County.

Two weeks ago, County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein asked the community to wear masks on a voluntary basis, but as a result of increased case counts and rapid spread of the Delta variant, mask wearing will be mandatory in San Luis Obispo County beginning Sept. 1.

Some San Luis Obispo County residents are feeling upset with the reinstatement of the mask mandate.

"It's really frustrating. Very frustrating," said Sheena Hopkins of San Luis Obispo.

At a San Luis Obispo County COVID-19 press conference Tuesday, Dr. Penny Borenstein announced new community guidelines in response to high COVID-19 transmission rates within the county.

"I come before you today to notify the community that we are invoking, that I am invoking as your health officer a mask mandate for the County of San Luis Obispo," Borenstein said.

Indoor venues like grocery stores, movie theaters and gas stations in San Luis Obispo County will now require people, regardless of vaccination status, to put on a mask before heading inside.

Though frustrated, some SLO County residents understand the importance of wearing masks to keep others safe, especially our most vulnerable populations.

"I'm over the masks, but I also understand them. You know? You have to have them. I have kids so I know," Hopkins said.

"I travel a lot for what I do and I'm in the airports everywhere, so I'm kind of used to it by now. It doesn't really bother me at all," said visitor David Sabbath.

Health professionals are becoming fatigued and frustrated as the pandemic drags on with no clear end in sight.

"In all my years, I have never seen anything like the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr. Tom Vendegna, Dignity Health, French Hospital Medical Center Chief Medical Officer.

Their advice to the community?

"If you want to go about your daily lives as before, then please, for the time being, wear a mask," said Mark Lisa, Tenet Health Central Coast CEO.

"The best defense is to get vaccinated and to wear your mask," said Alan Iftiniuk, Dignity Health French Hospital Medical Center President and CEO.

Health officials say social distancing, mask wearing and vaccination among community members will help stop the spread of the virus and alleviate the heavy burden the pandemic has put on the local health care system.

The mandate went into effect at midnight on Wednesday.

Dr Borenstein said the COVID-19 surge has continued to accelerate in the county with more than 3,500 cases reported in August compared to just 163 cases in June.