The Desert Healthcare District is set to call on employers and schools require vaccines, masks, and other safety precautions amid rising cases in the valley.
Desert Healthcare District CEO Conrado E. Bárzaga, MD presented the recommendations during Tuesday's board meeting.
"I believe we have a moral obligation, we have an ethical obligation, to raise our voice and to say... to make some recommendations," Bárzaga said.
According to DHCD's data, nearly one-third of the Coachella Valley's population is unvaccinated, this accounts for 139,000 age-eligible residents.
"I think it's prudent that we do this in the midst of all the conflicting and disorganized recommendations that we see coming from the federal government, from the state, and from other agencies," Bárzaga added.
Riverside County has reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases since July 1. The county's case rate has gone from 1.5 to 7.1 in the span of a month. The DCHD reports that most of these cases are reported in the 25-44 and 45-66 age groups.
Bárzaga called these numbers "alarming" in his report and called for broader participation from the community to increase vaccinations among residents. The organization is recommending employers, particularly large employers, to require vaccinations for its staff.
Bárzaga said a move by these groups would help facilitate the process of improving vaccinations and lessening the impact of the Delta variant.
The DHCD is also strongly recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face mask in indoor spaces. Bárzaga said this is due to breakthrough cases, which is when a person is fully vaccinated and still get COVID.
"This Delta variant has proven to be highly transmissible, and even in some cases, people that have been vaccinated can get infected with COVID-19," Bárzaga said.
The DHCD and Bárzaga's recommendation are not an order or a mandate, it is a call to action for the community. The organization's board discussed the recommendations changing some of the verbiage on the letter before sending it out to the community.
This comes a few hours after the Centers for Disease Control issued a recommendation for people to wear masks in areas of high transmission regardless of vaccination status.
CDC makes new mask recommendations with more questions than answers
In a media phone call Tuesday CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that it was a difficult decision to recommend masks for vaccinated individuals in areas of high transmission.
Walensky said the decision was made based on new science and data received in recent days regarding the delta variant. This data shows that in rare occasions vaccinated people may be contagious and able to spread the variant according to the CDC.
The best solution to the problem recommended by the CDC is to get vaccinated.
The recommendation was made for vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas of high transmission. When asked to clarify what "areas of high transmission" means the CDC Director pointed to people to reference the CDC COVID Data Tracker online.
Looking at that tracker today shows that Riverside County would be considered "high transmission". Riverside County joins Los Angeles and San Diego counties as being "high transmission" areas.