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Mixed Reaction From Bay Area Heath Experts To State's Indoor Mask Mandate

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Citing an alarming increase in COVID-19 case rates, state health officials will require all residents, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status, to wear masks indoors for at least a month.

The mandate, which goes into effect on Wednesday, drew a mixed reaction from the front lines in the battle against the virus.

UC-San Francisco Infectious Disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi believes any new restrictions imposed should be based on local vaccination rates and hospitalizations, not the state count of cases.

"What's on my mind is trust," she told KPIX 5. "The trust of us as a population to believe our public health officials are following science."

Gandhi points to Marin County, where for the last month mask mandates were lifted and hospitalizations remained very low. She also draws similar conclusions from Southern California.

"OC (Orange County) did not mask," she said. "L.A. did. Zero difference in cases and hospitalizations because they had the same vaccination rate, which proves how strong vaccination is and how powerful an intervention it is over masking."

But Dr. George Rutherford, who also is an infectious disease specialist at UC-San Francisco, says there simply isn't enough real time hospitalization data available to use it as the only metric to dictate COVID policy.

"How many people are newly coming into hospitals which is what we need to know to establish epidemic trends is a little more difficult to come by," he said. "If that were readily accessible then I think she (Dr. Gandhi) would be completely right, but until that day dawns than I think we need to continue the things we have followed."

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