BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — Indoor mask mandates are returning to some places locally, as the rate of positive covid cases increases. Starting Monday, people have to once again wear a face mask inside Erie County government buildings, Buffalo City Hall, and indoor exhibits at the Buffalo Zoo, regardless of vaccination status.
“This should be an incentive to the people who are holding out, to go ahead and get vaccinated now because this virus is not going to leave us alone,” said Infectious Disease Expert Dr. John Crane with the Jacobs School of Medicine.
Crane says people should expect more places across Western New York that could require people to wear a face mask indoors, even if they’re vaccinated. He warns the Delta Virus Variant is one of the factors driving these mandates. He tells News 4 it’s because this strain is more contagious and it’s been known to even infect vaccinated people.
“Now masks aren’t 100 percent effective but together with vaccination, it’s a strong combination to prevent transmission of this really highly contagious virus,” Crane said.
Doctor Crane says unfortunately as we approach the fall, which is known for its flu and cold season, these mandates could continue, which he knows some people won’t be thrilled about.
“That was one of the incentives at the beginning of the Spring and early summer, if you got vaccinated then you could take off your masks and you could go unmasked into stores and other places,” he said. “That was a big incentive for people.”
Dr. Richard Charles, who’s the chief medical officer at General Physician PC, says he’s also heard people are frustrated.
“I totally get it. I’ve heard it in my office, I’ve heard it in my own family, ‘hey Rich why do we have to get vaccinated and wear a mask?’ And I think the simple answer is if you’re wearing a mask it’s an extra level of protection,” he said.
Charles is also a member of the WNY Covid Working Group, a coalition of local healthcare providers. He says they’re encouraging people to still get vaccinated if they haven’t yet and to follow the guidelines as they’re released.
“We all want to get back to our normal lives, the fair is scheduled, school is going to open soon so I think if we are respectful to each other,” he said. “If we’re respectful about wearing a mask, social distancing where possible, those of us who haven’t been vaccinated, getting vaccinated, I think we all help each other.”
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.