SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While many of us are no longer wearing masks in public, some might be wondering if maybe they should. Especially with the spread of the Delta variant.
Masks are still required at airports, hospitals, and medical clinics. CDC guidelines also recommend people who are not vaccinated still wear masks in public settings. Dr. David Basel says at this point the spread of COVID-19 is low enough in our area, that if you are vaccinated, the risk of becoming seriously sick is so low, you can feel comfortable not wearing a mask.
“So, I’ve been fully vaccinated for some time now and I don’t wear a mask except when I’m going to the hospital or if I’m around someone who is really high risk, someone who is really immune suppressed, that sort of situation that’s really about the only time that I wear a mask these days and I’m pretty comfortable with the data supporting that,” said Basel.
Schools are discussing what to do about masks this fall. Dr. Basel says the information he’s getting indicates many will do away with masks in the classroom.
“Which is probably okay, as long as we stay at this very low level, the question becomes what happens if the Delta Variant comes to town and really starts to raise the rates back up again that’s when we are going to have some harder decisions to make,” said Basel.
About half of South Dakotans are still not vaccinated. According to the latest report from the state department of health, just over 53 percent of people 12 and older have completed their vaccinations.
CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says 97 percent of COVID-19 patients now being hospitalized are unvaccinated. She says the Delta variant poses a real danger to those who remain unvaccinated and don’t wear masks.
This whole pandemic has come with a learning curve, even for Doctors. Basel admits, when the pandemic started he wasn’t sure masks were effective. But now he is convinced.
“The data is very clear on how effective they’ve been,” said Basel.
He also points out the fact that last year’s flu season was almost non-existent as proof that masks work at stopping the spread of viruses.