(KRON) – The summer heat and sun are drawing people outdoors while COVID-19 transmission rates remain high throughout the Bay Area. Health officials suggest wearing a mask outside to protect yourself from an infection.

The Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have managed to evade the immunity we get from a COVID-19 vaccination series or previous infection. That prompted infectious disease specialists to suggest that the public masks up outdoors.

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“When somebody is infected, they’re gonna be expelling virus from their mouth and/or nose,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, a clinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s school of public health. “And, just talking will expel the virus. Yelling, screaming, singing will expel a lot more virus.”

So anyone who is outdoors but still within close proximity with the public without a mask is risking an infection, regardless of whether they have tested positive and recovered from the virus in the past.

“It’s just about impossible to find somebody that you know that hasn’t been infected now, and that’s really very unfortunate.” Swartzberg said. 

Masking indoors remains optional in the state except in certain circumstances, like public transportation and healthcare settings.