FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A prominent doctor in Arkansas said vaccinated people may want to keep their masks as the Delta variant continues spreading through the state. Fayetteville health officials will discuss whether to recommend mask wearing to all individuals, both vaccinated and unvaccinated.
UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson has been active on social media, and a Thursday Twitter thread made the case for mask-wearing even in the vaccinated population.
“Even if you’ve been vaccinated, you can be infected with no symptoms, and you can still pass that on,” Patterson said. “The downside of saying that is it may disincentive people to get vaccinated if they think, ‘I’m going to get vaccinated, and the people at UAMS are telling me I still need to wear a mask.'”
The Delta variant’s infecting more Arkansans and putting more in the hospital each day, and the vast majority are unvaccinated. Fayetteville Chief Health Officer Dr. Marti Sharkey said it’s forcing tough decisions.
“Because we have such a large unvaccinated population that it’s still circulating, if everybody got a vaccine, we would not be discussing this,” Sharkey said.
Sharkey said next week, the Fayetteville Board of Health will discuss whether to formally recommend mask-wearing for all people in the city.
“I’m frustrated that we’d have to ask vaccinated individuals who’ve done their part already to potentially put masks back on,” Sharkey said.
Sharkey said she’s beginning to agree with Patterson’s Twitter recommendation.
“We’re going to have to have a serious conversation about it as a Board,” Sharkey said.