MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) – With the COVID-19 omicron surge already hitting its peak in many areas, Marin County has started to ease back some restrictions. But there is a divide between those that are ready and those that believe it's too soon.
In Marin, students and staff no longer have to wear their masks outdoors at school and there is no cap on the number of people that can attend indoor or outdoor events. These are slight changes but it's a sign that Marin is slowly changing its approach to COVID-19.
"As a principle at every stage, we're trying to be least restrictive as possible," Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said.
Willis adds so much was learned from the initial lockdown phase of the pandemic.
"It's important for us to take into account a more holistic understanding of the harm of COVID-19 and balance the harms of some of the policies we had to put into place to prevent transmission," the health officer said.
Willis said Marin County is not in the endemic phase yet but he is starting to see parallels with other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. For a county that has the highest vaccination rate in California, with more that 94% of those 5 and older fully vaccinated, the risk of severe disease and death has dropped significantly.
"I think we owe it to ourselves and our communities to recognize that while we continue to face this and this will be with us for several weeks longer with potential surges in the future, that we integrate a holistic view on what our policies should be so that we are protecting our mental, social and physical health at the same time," Willis explained.
Some residents like Anastasia Komaroea would like to see the shift in policy. "We cannot live like this for years and years. We've been far too long all closed, inside and scared," Komaroea told KPIX 5.
Others feel loosening restrictions at this time, especially masking mandates, will be harmful.
"Even though things are getting better, we're not out of the woods yet," said Nancy Bush. "And I firmly believe that masking is one of the ways we can get through this together and so I think it's important to keep vigilant through all of this."
for more features.