FRESNO COUNTY, California. (KSEE) – Vaccination status will no longer play a role in whether or not Californians will be urged to mask up indoors. The state is now recommending even fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings where transmission is high or substantial.
Peggy Dunklee, owner of A Book Barn in Clovis, said she’s the only business she knows of in town that’s continued requesting all customers wear masks.
“We just want to make sure everybody is safe,” she said.
Dunklee said a former employee died of COVID and for health and safety reasons, they’ve continued the mask request even after the state reopened June 15.
“We had quite a few customers that came in and were not real happy with us asking them to wear a mask. We had a gal that refused to buy a gift card because she wasn’t going to wear a mask to do that,” Dunklee said.
A statement from the Fresno County Department of Public Health backed the State’s recommendation saying: “The level of community transmission is substantial with case trends increasing” and they advise “a return to universal masking indoors statewide to protect against the spread of (the) more contagious Delta variant.”
For now, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said the City will not impose a mandate.
“I think it is important for people to have an incentive for being vaccinated. One of those incentives is the fact that they do not have to wear a mask and I believe if we put in a citywide mandate to wear a mask, the question is going to be ‘Then why did I get vaccinated?’,” he said.
Councilmember Garry Bredefeld said everyone is entitled to make their own choices.
“This is America. People are smart enough to make decisions for themselves as they’ve been doing since the inception of this country and we shouldn’t be forcing people to get vaccinations or force them to wear a mask,” he said.
Dyer said far fewer COVID patients are hospitalized now than in the past, with just over 56% percent of residents vaccinated, a number he’d like to see increase.
A Book Barn employees discuss their mask policy regularly but plan on keeping it in place for the time being.
“I know it’s not the happy thing for everybody, but someday we’ll get to not have to deal with this again,” Dunklee said.
Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra is expected to discuss mask recommendations in more detail in the coming days.