CAMPBELL, Calif. - The California Nurses Association, a labor union representing more than 100,000 registered nurses across the state, is urging the California Department of Public Health not to adopt the new, more lenient indoor mask-wearing guidelines announced by the Centers for Disease Control.
California health officials have yet to respond to the CDC's new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated people to forego wearing masks and social distancing in most indoor settings.
The CDC announced the relaxed indoor guidance Thursday, but it's up to California's Department of Public Health to decide whether to put them into practice.
The CNA, a chapter of National Nurse's United, the largest union of a registered nurse's in the country, wants more people to be fully vaccinated, especially in communities of color, before the state eases mask-wearing guidelines. On Sunday, the CDC reported 37.1 percent of all Americans over the age of 16 were fully vaccinated. In California, the state's COVID19 website reported that 48.7 percent of people are fully vaccinated.
"There has been so much inequity in the vaccine rollout and racial inequity in who is a frontline worker put most at risk by this guidance. The impact of the CDC’s guidance update will be felt disproportionately by workers of color and their families and communities," said NNU President Zenei Triunfo-Cortez.
"It's really not fair to say everybody, you know, take your masks off. How are we going to be able to tell if you're vaccinated or not?" Sandy Reding, a co-president of the CNA said. "You know, we can't. It's the honor system."
Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, explained the honor system to Fox News Sunday.
"The honor system is to be honest with yourself. if you are vaccinated, we are saying you are safe, you can take off your mask, and you are not at risk of severe disease or hospitalization from COVID-19," Walensky said.
"If you are not vaccinated, you are not safe. please go get vaccinated or continue to wear your masks," Walensky added.
The CDC states on their website that fully vaccinated people are unlikely to get seriously sick from the virus, but could potentially spread it to others:
"Scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms," the CDC writes.
In a tweet, the CNA called the CDC's relaxed mask guidelines "a danger to public health" and shared an online petition calling on the CDC to revoke the new guidance.
"Everybody's tired of wearing masks, I get it. Right, nobody more so than nurses that wear them in our jobs and outside," Reding said. "But we recognize the importance of it and the layers of protection that we need to take, and the community needs to take, to get control of this virus," Redding said.
Gina Mojica, a former South Bay nurse now working out-of-state said she's seeing more cases of fully vaccinated parents exposing their unvaccinated children to COVID-19.
"We're seeing a lot of little ones now because parents are vaccinated but they're going places with the kids, and now the kids are starting to get really sick," Mojica said. She added that continuing to wear masks, even for the fully vaccinated, is safer for public health.
Around downtown Campbell Sunday, the sidewalks were mixed with mask-wearing people and those without masks.
Kyle Richards kept his mask on.
"If I could, I would definitely take off my mask, no question about it. But I often feel like you really can't because otherwise you'll get judged for it," Richards said.