1st in Bay Area: Everyone must mask up in San Mateo County buildings

One Bay Area county is taking its COVID safety precautions up a notch all due to the delta variant.

Beginning Monday, San Mateo County will require everyone to wear a mask -- even the vaccinated -- inside county buildings.

It's the first known county in the Bay Area to require such a mask mandate. 

The Human Services office in Daly City is an example of one of more than 20 San Mateo County buildings that will have the requirement.          

With more than 5,000 employees, the move is meant to protect workers and the public as delta variant cases rise.

"We’re seeing cases just continually climb.  It’s a concern, nearly doubled in the last two weeks, said Board of Supervisor President David Canepa.

The county boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with 89% of those eligible vaccinated.

Still, Canepa says there are holes in those numbers, leading to the potential for more cases.

"We have that 89% number, but amongst Latinos, in particular, that number is about 50-52%.  And that’s where a lot of concern is," said Canepa

There’s also concern about  breakthrough cases, which is why an already vaccinated man says he always wears a mask in public.

"I’m worried about the other people who aren’t vaccinated," said Darrell Louie. "You know, they’re not vaccinated. I don’t want to take the chance of me getting it already.  I mean, just in case, it might happen."

Across the street from the county building in Daly City where masks will be obligatory, there’s a state building, the DMV where no mask is required if you are vaccinated.

That falls in line with California and national CDC guidelines that only recommend indoor use for the vaccinated.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci says a change in that policy is "under active consideration."

And Canepa acknowledges it’s confusing to the public.

"Confusion may be all around us, because you’re dealing with CDC, the federal government, you’re dealing with the state government.  You’re dealing with the local government.  As policy makers, we have to acknowledge that that does exist."

But some are cutting through the confusion, not waiting for official recommendations, saying the rise of Delta cases is all the proof they need to wear the mask.

"I kept my mask on in general, but definitely I think with the variant and the way it’s mutating, I guess everyone should probably keep their mask on, at least in public or at least around other people at least," said Beck Kim, visiting the Bay Area from San Diego.

It’s unknown when or if the CDC will change its mask guidelines.