Effective Tuesday, seven of the nine Bay Area counties will again require that all people wear face masks in indoor public spaces. The joint order was announced in statements issued Monday by health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma counties and the city of Berkeley.
Napa and Solano counties are notably not included in the joint order and have not issued independent mask orders as of Monday at noon.
Citing heavy transmission of the Covid-19 delta variant and concerns over breakthrough infections among the vaccinated population, the statement said the new health orders are consistent with guidance issued by both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health.
They insist vaccines remain the best tool against the virus, and offer strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death. However, the new orders aim to curb the growing community transmission.
The CDC recommended last week that people, vaccinated or not, in high or substantial transmission areas wear masks in indoor public settings. As of Monday afternoon, the CDC designates San Mateo and Santa Clara counties as having substantial transmission; all other seven counties fall into the high transmission category. The increased community spread has substantially pushed up hospitalization rates around the Bay Area.
Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa, said:
“We must act now to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community. If you are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine and have not yet done so, please do not wait any longer. During July the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in our county increased 400%. Four out of five of the COVID patients we see are not vaccinated, even though only one out of five Contra Costa adults are not vaccinated.”
The Brentwood Union School District, which is located in eastern Contra Costa County, shared Monday that 15 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed among staff and students throughout the district’s 11 schools. The district reopened just Wednesday for in-person instruction. Superintendent Dana Eaton said the cases do not necessarily indicate campus transmission, adding:
“The positivity rate at schools is likely to mirror that of the communities they reside in.”
Dr. Naveena Bobba, San Francisco Acting Health Officer, said:
“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.”