LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, Los Angeles County in California is bringing back its mask mandate, requiring everyone to wear a mask indoors, even if they're vaccinated. Now, a local doctor is encouraging everyone in Las Vegas to do the same.
Two days ago the Chief Medical Officer at Southern Hills Hospital Dr. Domenic Martinello sounded the alarm about an increasing number of unvaccinated people having to be hospitalized because of COVID-19.
As a result, he's urging everyone to wear a mask, in certain situations, to help slow the surge of infections in Las Vegas.
"Most of us [medical professionals] feel that the best thing to do is to keep going with what we did a year ago: social distancing, masking in close confines, especially when you're around unvaccinated people, but even vaccinated people still can put on a mask and help out in this circumstance. It's about degrees of risk. So, what the CDC is saying is that it's less risky now with vaccinated people to be inside without masks. What we're saying is you can still wear masks indoors. It's not mandatory, but if you want that extra level of protection and want to help those around you, and by all means, most of us in the healthcare industry still do, by and large," said Dr. Martinello.
Ever since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, it feels like face coverings have become a relic of the pandemic past. Yet Margaret, a Las Vegas local, still wears a mask at the grocery store, even though she's vaccinated.
"Just for my own safety. I don’t know who’s vaccinated and who isn’t. And with the Delta variant, I’d rather be safe than sorry," she said.
Shelly, who was born and raised in Las Vegas, suspects a lot of people are lying about their vaccination status to avoid having to wear a mask.
"It's scary. I don’t think a lot of people are wearing the mask and they haven’t been vaccinated. And people that aren’t vaccinated, they need to get vaccinated, for the safety of everybody," Shelly said.
That's exactly why Jeff, a Lyft driver who lives in Las Vegas, thinks the CDC was too quick to change its guidance on mask-wearing in public places.
"I would prefer that my guests wear a mask, but you know how the hotels are, the restaurants, it’s just all gone. And yet, here we are with incidents of COVID rising again. So, I think we should’ve left them on a little bit longer," said Jeff.
Kenneth also lives in Las Vegas and is no fan of face coverings, but says he'd be willing to wear the mask again so the world can keep working.
"If that’s what we’re doing to keep from shutting down again, then whatever we have to do to keep from that happening again, and I’m all for it. So, as long as we can keep people working and keep people back to their lives, then whatever we gotta do to keep that going, sure," he said.
No word yet on whether Gov. Steve Sisolak or Clark County Commissioners are considering reinstating health guidelines like the mask mandate.