EIGHT Bay Area counties are requiring residents to wear masks in public indoor settings anew.
The mandate requires all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings when indoors in public settings to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 amid a surge in cases and the Delta variant.
Health officers representing the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley made the joint announcement Monday, August 2.
“COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in protecting people against severe illness and hospitalizations, and the vaccine continues to be our best way to protect ourselves, our families
and our communities,” said Dr. Naveena Bobba, San Francisco Acting Health Officer.
“Indoor masking is a temporary measure that will help us deal with the Delta variant, which is causing a sharp increase in cases, and we know increases in hospitalizations and deaths will follow. When we all wear face coverings indoors, we are protecting our fellow residents and helping our healthcare workers,” she added.
Health officials expressed concern over the substantial levels of community transmission now found across the Bay Area, especially among unvaccinated people.
In part, they noted, this is due to the widespread COVID-19 Delta variant, which is more transmissible than previous forms of the virus.
“In Sonoma County, our case rate for unvaccinated individuals is nearly six times higher than it is for our vaccinated population,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, health officer for Sonoma County.
She added, “This is not the same virus that we were combating last year, even a few months ago. The Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than previous versions of the coronavirus, and (we have) an increase in the number of vaccinated people now testing positive.”
Citing recent information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials relayed that even fully vaccinated individuals can, in some cases, spread the Delta variant to others. They stressed that indoor use of face coverings could provide an important added layer of protection.
“The virus doesn’t care what kind of indoor space you’re at, whether it’s in a public building, or someone’s home. Anytime you’re in an indoor space with other people who you don’t live with, there is a risk that you could get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Santa Clara Deputy Health Officer Dr. George Hahn.
Health officials also recommended that all employers make face coverings available to individuals entering their businesses, and businesses are required to implement the indoor face covering order.
The new mandate was in line with guidance from the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, which recommend that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks while in indoor public settings.
Bay Area Health Officers assured to continue monitoring data, including increasing vaccination throughout the region, to determine when the order can be adjusted or lifted.