Kern At High Covid-19 Risk Level: Will You Return To Wearing A Mask?
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Are you willing to put the mask back on? KNZR got the opinions of some Bakersfield residents.

“I would wear a mask because I feel that it keeps me healthier, um, in the long run.  And this whole pandemic, we’ve been wearing masks and I haven’t gotten sick one time, so I mean, it’s for everyone else, but it’s for us, too, you know what I mean?”

This resident told us, “Yes, I would definitely continue wearing masks, you know, with everything uprising. It’s getting worse again, so I am definitely pro-mask right now.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now suggesting people return to wearing masks as Covid-19 cases surge in the U.S.  More than 100,000 new cases have been reported each day in the last two weeks due to new versions of the omicron variant.

Here at home, Kern County has returned to the “high” risk level for Covid-19. That means everyone regardless of vaccine status is encouraged, but not required, to wear masks when indoors in public places. Not everybody is on board with that idea, including this Bakersfield resident who says, “I would not be willing to wear a mask just because CDC said so. Two years, two and a half years now without wearing one, except when I have to walk into a hospital or doctor’s office, I’ve been Covid-free.”

Michelle Corson, Public Relations Officer with the Kern County Public Health Department, says keeping an eye on the CDC’s various risk levels gives Kern County residents the opportunity to make their own decisions about how to protect themselves.

“It is recommended that we wear a mask indoors, that we stay up to date with Covid-19 vaccines, and we get tested if we have Covid-19 symptoms.”

Corson says while the department continues to monitor case levels, officials aren’t concerned that we’ll go back to the tight restrictions of two years ago.

“This is definitely a different place we’re currently in.  It’s expected to peak in the very near future and it’s not near as high of cases and hospitalizations as we have experienced previously.”

So, are people just plain done with Covid-19? Corson says the answer is yes.

“Of course. You know, I think, you know, everyone wants to put this behind us as quickly as possible.  This has changed our lives dramatically. We at Public Health want to move forward, we want to keep our community healthy and informed.  So yeah, this is definitely a time. But we are optimistic. We’re optimistic that it is, you know, we’re moving forward, we’re learning to live with this, that will, you know, continue to ebb and flow. We have tools at our disposal and it’s everybody’s choice as to what tools they want to use to protect themselves.”

Two years after the start of the covid-19 pandemic, things finally began to loosen up in March 2022 when Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the statewide mask mandate for indoor places.  But does a recent spike in cases mean we’re headed for a re-do of mask mandates and the tighter restrictions of two years ago?  Time – and the case count – will tell.

Meanwhile, perhaps Michael Corleone said it best: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Let’s hope he’s wrong.

Posted by Jeff Lemucchi