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Central Coast counties recommend masks indoors

delta variant covid coronavirus
NIAID / CC BY 2.0

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION) Central Coast counties are now recommending the use of masks indoors as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread.

In Monterey County 14 cases have been reported, ten in Santa Cruz County and 20 in San Benito County.

Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said, “the recommendation asks us to consider our greater community and for even those of us who were fully vaccinated to put on a mask in public places. To protect not just the unvaccinated who are choosing not to be vaccinated. But there are some folks who aren't eligible for vaccination.”

According to Dr. Newel, almost 70 % of cases in California are from the Delta variant. However, it's important to note that all three vaccines remain effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death, she said.

"Of our five most recent deaths, and none of them were vaccinated," said Dr. Newel. "Of our hospitalizations in the past three months We have had just very few 12% were vaccinated, and none of those died.”

Montage Health has had 257 patients admitted since January 1st and only eight of these patients were known to have received at least one dose. The eight patients were not treated for critical or severe illness.

Central Coast colleges are addressing the rise of the Delta variant and its possible impact on both students and faculty ahead of the fall semester. UC Santa Cruz will require all students and staff to be vaccinated unless a religious or medical-related exemption form is filled out. However, masks and social distancing will not be required.

“We're ready to adapt if the situation gets, you know if it gets worse," said UCSC Spokesperson Scott Hernandez-Jason. "Right now, we're feeling good about the pieces that we have in place. Having a vaccine policy should really help limit the spread of the virus in our communities.”

Just like UCSC, Hartnell College and CSU Monterey Bay will continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID and will adjust accordingly. CSUMB advises students to submit proof of vaccination. Students who choose to not submit proof of vaccination will be required to wear a mask indoors and test weekly. Masks and social distancing will be implemented at the Hartnell College campuses and vaccines are voluntary but highly encouraged.

"We're seeing the situation change nationally, very rapidly and so it's being evaluated continually," said Hartnell College Director of Communications Scott Faust. "At this point, it appears that our plans will hold but if things go in a bad direction, obviously, we would reconsider all those practices."

According to health officials, the message here is that it's important for all eligible residents to get vaccinated. The vaccine does not mean you're immune to covid but rather it reduces the chances of getting severely ill and being hospitalized.

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Jonathan Sarabia

Jonathan is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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