Delta variant has some cities reinstating indoor mask recommendations, even if you're fully vaccinated

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --  Believe it or not, some areas of the country, like Los Angeles County, are reinstating indoor mask recommendations even if you're fully vaccinated. Reports say CDC officials are leaving it up to local officials to set mask-wearing guidelines as the more contagious Delta variant spreads.

"The reason that the CDC is saying they'll leave it to municipalities -- they want them to look at their local spread," said Dr. Mary Beth Graham, infectious disease specialist at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin.

Doctors say there are a number of data points to look at closely before deciding to reinstate masks, like outbreaks and clusters, among other factors.

"If we see hospitalization rates rise among vaccinated individuals or if we see a higher number of fatalities occurring. None of that is happening at the moment but those are good things to keep a really close eye on," said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health.

Wisconsin's positivity rate continues to be low, with the seven-day average at now 0.9 percent, and nearly 47-percent of people finishing their vaccine series. Even so, doctors expect little pockets in the state will experience high infection rates due to the Delta variant and low vaccinations.

"You could look at that specific county municipality area and say, because we're seeing higher rates of transmission and higher number of cases in this particular area, it would be prudent to wear a mask," adds Dr. Graham.

"From the virus' perspective, a really excellent doubling time, meaning that it can go from very few cases to a lot of cases in a very short period of time," says Dr. Safdar.

Dr. Graham says as a gauge for her hospital's infection control, talks of increasing mitigation efforts happen when case positive averages are more than five-percent. Milwaukee County continues to have a 7-day average of less than 12 positive daily cases as of June 19.

"The biggest question is where should the trigger be?" said Dr. Graham. "So if we get back up to five-percent positivity, do we reinstitute mitigation for everybody?"

"It's not fun to have to wear a mask all day, but if you think about the additive benefit, you know, it's not like it's either the vaccine or the mask, sometimes it needs to be both. But I don’t think we're quite at the point here that that needs to be a requirement for all indoor spaces," Dr. Safdar says.

The CDC recommends people who are unvaccinated continue wearing masks. Dr. Safdar also says people who are immunocompromised and worry the vaccine may not be working as well should also wear one.

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