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Breakthrough Cases And Delta Variant Concerns Have Some Officials Reevaluating Mask Rules

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There are new concerns about COVID vaccine hesitancy and so-called breakthrough cases, where people who got the shot are still getting COVID.

Transmission is so high in Los Angeles, the county just reinstated its indoor mask mandate for unvaccinated and vaccinated people.

CBS2's Jessica Moore took a look at what this means for you this summer, and for your children this fall.

Around New York City, maskless masses are celebrating the freedom that comes from being vaccinated.

"I like to see people's faces. It feels like we're back in a community again," one person said.


"I got the vaccine and now I feel much more comfortable going outside and living life normal," said Chelsea resident Macy Hayes.

But it turns out, the vaccine may not be enough.

Thursday's baseball game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox was abruptly postponed after three Yankees players tested positive for COVID. All three were fully vaccinated.

Three others are likely infected as well.

"I'm kind of scared, I took the COVID shot and I'm thinking, if they caught it and they've been vaccinated, now it could happen to me or anyone of us," said Bronx resident Ishmael Gonzalez.

Medical experts call these breakthrough cases, when fully vaccinated people contract the virus.

As the delta variant continues to spread around the country,  breakthrough cases are becoming increasingly common. In Los Angeles, the numbers are so high the county has reinstated its indoor mask policy for everyone - even those who got the shot.

"Personally, when I go to the grocery store or the post office, I wear a mask. I don't dine inside because of that," said oncologist. Dr. Zeke Emanuel.

"The mixed messaging of saying that you have to mask when you're vaccinated will tell the unvaccinated, oh, actually, the vaccines don't work," said Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California-San Francisco.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has no plans to reinstate the mask mandate in New York City because so many people are vaccinated.

"We do not have a plan to change course at this point but we're going to watch the data constantly to see if any adjustments are needed," he said.

Officials in New Jersey and Connecticut agree.

New York City students will be back in the classroom full time this fall, but will still have to wear masks.

New York City mother Natalya Murakhver says that's ridiculous.

"Adults generally do not wear masks six to seven to eight hours a day and they're not children, and the fact that we're forcing our children to continue to do this without an end date is terrifying. And I know many parents want no part of it," she said.

According to the CDC, COVID cases are up 70% this week compared to last week, and 97% of people who end up in the hospital are unvaccinated.

"This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the CDC.

Watch Jessica Moore's report -- 

New York City is responding to the nationwide uptick with more outreach. The effort includes trained professionals who are trying to educate New Yorkers about the vaccine.

"You have to get innovative when it comes to this stuff because people are just over it. They don't want just a mask anymore," said Brandon Duncanson, with Community Mediation Services.

He says New York has been there, done that, so he and other members of the group are trying to get creative when starting a conversation about the COVID vaccine, hitting high-traffic areas like Rockaway Beach in Queens in hopes of helping the hesitant.

"We're close to the beach, so we give away beach bags. Inside you have a frisbee, towel," Duncanson said.

"To make sure we get the hot spot information, and we use that to dictate where we're going to go," said John Harrison, with Community Mediation Services.

"So you do ask people why they're not vaccinated, and what do they say?" CBS2's Jessica Layton asked.

"I mean, often times, it can range anything from they're scared, they've heard about negative side effects ... Also, sometimes what you're finding is that they have just the wrong information," Duncanson said.

Health experts say vaccinations are key to crushing the virus, and even a breakthrough patient agrees.

"I'm fully vaccinated and I still got COVID, but I recovered. The vaccine is worth it," said Rachel Maginn Rosser.


The U.S. surgeon general was also asked about breakthrough cases on CBS This Morning.

"Your chances of getting sick and transmitting the infection to somebody else are low. That doesn't mean zero, it means low," Dr. Vivek Murphy said.

He also warned that false information about vaccinations has become a "serious threat to public health" that is driving vaccine hesitancy.

"In some cases, there are people intentionally trying to spread information, sometimes for financial gain or for political reasons or for other reasons," he said.

He said sometimes people don't realize they're spreading misinformation, so make sure to check your facts and sources before clicking the "share" button on social media.

About 56% of Americans 12 and older are vaccinated. The vaccine is expected to be approved for children 5 and older by the end of year.

Health experts also want to remind the public the point of the vaccine is to prevent serious illness, which it seems to have done in the case of the Yankees.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that 99.5% of people dying of COVID right now didn't have their shots.

John Dias and Jessica Layton contributed to this report. 

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