County hopes mask recommendation will lower infection rate before start of school

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Whether you’re vaccinated or not, Monroe County now wants you to wear a mask when you’re inside a public place, that includes buildings, stores, museums and malls.

“We’re seeing people who are vaccinated getting ill and we know that although they’re at a much lower chance of having a severe illness or certainly being hospitalized or worse, we know that they can still transmit the infection and this Delta variant is a new beast altogether,” explained Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza.

Dr. Mendoza told News10NBC the indoor mask recommendation is hopefully a temporary measure in order to get our infection rate down before the start of the school year.

Jennifer Lewke (News10NBC) – To be clear, this is a recommendation, not a mandate?

Dr. Mike Mendoza – It is, it is a recommendation… a strong recommendation and the reality is that we hope people will heed our call and do the right thing. My primary goal has always been to keep everybody healthy and safe and I’m not gonna lie we’ve got the school year looming and we want to do everything we can to stack the odds in favor of getting all our kids back in school full-time.

Jennifer Lewke – Speaking of schools… It looks like Governor Cuomo may be kicking back some of the school re-opening guidance to the local health departments and school districts. Are you meeting with Superintendents and what are those discussions?

Dr. Mike Mendoza – To some degree, we’ve always wanted a little bit more flexibility at the local level and so, I’ve been talking to the Superintendents and schools about that very possibility and the reality is if it never comes to be, we’ve done all this planning for no reason but I’d rather be in that position than be unprepared.

Jennifer Lewke – Is it fair to say that the goal is to get kids back to school full-time but parents should assume they will be masked?

Dr. Mike Mendoza – I think we want to get our kids back to school as safely as possible with a year that looks as normal as possible… I think if most parents were given the choice between the hybrid situation with 6 feet (social distancing) like we had last year or going to school full-time with masks, I think most people choose the masks as a lesser of two evils. Now, do we wish we could do away with all of it? Sure but unfortunately that’s not in the cards. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and we’ve got to get ourselves out of this.