Public health officers from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma and the city of Berkeley issued a joint statement Friday morning with the strong recommendation that everyone, including those fully vaccinated, wear a face mask while indoors in public places.

Napa and Solano counties are notably absent from the joint statement.

Officials said the recommendation is the simplest way to ensure unvaccinated people are wearing masks while indoors in public settings, which is suggested in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The joint statement also urges businesses “to adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas” in order to better protect both customers and employees. 

In a statement, San Francisco’s Public Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip, said:

“We are asking our residents to collectively come together again in this effort to stem the rising cases until we can assess how our hospital capacity will be impacted.”

On Thursday, The City’s Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax, joined by city officials in the Bayview neighborhood at the Southeast Health Care Center, pleaded with residents who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible as cases are rising again in The City due to the Delta variant of the virus.

Colfax said:

“The difference between getting COVID while vaccinated or not could be sniffles versus suffocation.”

Mayor London Breed said The City anticipates an additional 250 deaths among unvaccinated residents due to the surging Delta variant, adding that the deaths will disproportionately impact Black and Latino communities.

Breed said:

“When I say it’s a matter of life or death. This is serious.”

Noting that the Delta variant has caused a three-fold increase in the daily case rate, Colfax said:

“The Delta variant is Covid on steroids.”

City data shows that the seven-day average of new cases was 51 as of July 8, in stark contrast to June when the average case rate never rose above 20 throughout the month. Colfax said case rates are currently two and a half times higher among Black and Latino residents.

Board of Supervisors President Shanman Walton, who represents District 10, said he understands the Black community’s lack of trust in vaccines due to tragic history like the Tuskegee Study, but he urged people to look at the current data to see how well the vaccine is working for those who received it.

Walton said:

“It is important for you to keep yourself safe for you to keep your family safe, and for you to keep the people around you safe.”

San Francisco residents who are still not vaccinated can visit https://sf.gov/get-vaccinated-against-covid-19 to find a vaccination site.

The case rate increase in San Francisco is mirrored across the Bay Area, the state and nationwide.

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in the joint statement:

“The highly infectious Delta variant is now the predominant strain in Contra Costa County. While vaccines remain our best tool against Covid-19, masking in indoor and crowded outdoor settings will help us curb the spread of this latest wave of infection.”

Los Angeles County on Thursday reinstated an indoor mask mandate for all people. 

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay and covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a San Francisco native and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Follow Jerold on Twitter @jerold_chinn. Email tips to jerold@sfbay.ca.

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