By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer County of Santa Barbara, Department of Public Health

Everyone regardless of vaccination status will be better protected from the Delta variant when wearing a well-fitting mask in indoor settings. Unfortunately, the Delta variant can infect even vaccinated persons, however, they may not get severely ill or need hospital care.

Why is there a change in recommendation of mask wearing?

We are seeing a rise in cases throughout Santa Barbara County. As of July 30, 2021, the daily case rate of positive COVID-19 cases is 12.2 of 100,000, up 30% from two weeks ago. The rate for vaccinated people is 5.6, while the rate among unvaccinated people is 19.1.

I thought fully vaccinated people were protected from the Delta variant

Our vaccines prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID. Unfortunately, it is possible to get infected and suffer milder symptoms even if fully vaccinated. Vaccinated persons who are infected, can spread the virus as well.

This is a new reality we are now facing with the Delta variant. Subsequently we need to take extra precautions and mask up in indoor public settings to protect ourselves and others.

How does wearing a mask slow the spread of COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets containing virus. This happens with talking, laughing, singing and of course coughing or sneezing. These droplets can be breathed in by other people. Wearing a mask over your mouth and nose lowers the number of respiratory droplets and particles that you release into the air when you breathe, talk, laugh or cough. 

How long will the recommendations of wearing masks indoors last?

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will continue to watch transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths, and increasing vaccination rates throughout the region. More vaccinations and mask wearing will enable us to avoid the kind of lockdowns, shutdowns, school closures, and disruptions we saw last year. Once we see a meaningful reduction in the local case rates, the masking mandate will no longer be necessary and get lifted.

How can I get a vaccination?
Vaccines are available across Santa Barbara County and free to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many vaccination sites take walk-ins, or you can choose to make an appointment.

  • Visit to find a location near you
  • Information is also available in many languages 24/7 by calling 2-1-1
  • TEXT: GETVAX (438829) for English or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish