Denver ER doctor sounding alarm over delta variant, recommends indoor masking

People wearing masks at Denver Zoo
Posted at 4:57 PM, Jul 18, 2021

DENVER -- An emergency room doctor based in Denver is sounding the alarm as the COVID-19 delta variant spreads across Colorado.

"I think maybe it's time to start thinking about putting our masks back on, especially indoors where we know that the ventilation is not necessarily all that good," Dr. Comilla Sasson said Sunday.

As of the latest Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) data from the last week of June, the delta variant made up nearly 90% of the specimens randomly tested.

"I think the data is changing, and I think that's hard for folks," Dr. Sasson said.

This week, Los Angeles County began requiring masks indoors again, even for vaccinated people, due to rising cases and hospitalizations.

The health district serving Las Vegas now also recommends both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks indoors.

"When a new mutation comes out that's more transmissible, we have to change our approach to keep everyone safe, and I think that's hard for people to sometimes stomach," Dr. Sasson said.

Vaccinated people are included in these requirements or recommendations, she says, because they, too, can get infected, even if the symptoms are mild, and unknowingly spread the virus.

"What we're learning now and as we're starting to see all over the U.S. is that we're having these breakthrough cases, which is basically people who've been vaccinated who have now gotten COVID-19," Dr. Sasson said. "You've got vaccinated people who maybe have mild symptoms starting to realize they have COVID, but they can still transmit COVID to other people."

While there are no public plans for any new requirements or recommendations in the Denver metro, some are feeling unsure about the weeks ahead.

"I feel like if people are getting vaccinated, then why should we have to wear a mask? It kind of defeats the purpose," Marissa, who lives in Westminster and wears a mask during work, said.

"I mean, if we have to do it for a little while longer, like until the fall or something like that, then I think it's doable," Michael Sugar, visiting from Chicago, added.

The delta variant is not yet the variant of concern in the Denver metro, according to CPDHE, but Dr. Sasson warns your best bet against it is getting vaccinated if you haven't done so already.