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Bay Area counties, except Santa Clara, to lift indoor mask mandate next week

Following the announcement Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom that he will let the state’s indoor mask mandate expire on Feb. 15, public health officials from most Bay Area counties Wednesday announced they will also align with the state’s guidelines.

Officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma counties as well as Berkeley, will lift its universal mask requirements for most indoor public settings starting next Wednesday. Unvaccinated persons over the age 2 of will still need to continue wearing a mask in all indoor public settings.

Additionally, the counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz will join the Bay Area in lifting the indoor mask requirement.

The state still requires indoor masking for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in healthcare settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, schools and childcare settings as well on public transportation.

While the indoor mask mandate will be lifted, health officials still recommend individuals to wear a mask, especially in crowded indoor settings or places with poor indoor ventilation. The public should wear N95 masks or a cloth mask over a surgical mask.

The highly infectious omicron variant caused the state to implement a universal indoor mask mandate on Dec. 15 as the variant increased the number of daily cases to record highs in many Bay Area counties and throughout the state.

San Francisco reached an average high of 2,258 cases per day on Jan. 9, but daily cases have significantly declined, according to data from the Department of Public Health. While still high, the average number of daily new cases is at 553 as of Feb. 1.

The City’s Public Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip said in a statement:

We are able to take this next major step of removing the universal indoor mask requirement because we have laid a strong foundation in good public health protections and know we can prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths.”

Santa Clara County is the only Bay Area county that will keep its indoor mask requirement for now and will use metrics such as vaccination, hospitalizations and case rates before determining to lifting the requirement.

The county so far has met one of the metrics that 80 percent of all county residents are fully vaccinated. The other metrics include that hospitalizations are “low and stable” determined by the health officer and the seven-day average of new cases is below 550 for at least a week.

Dr. Sara Cody, health officer and director of public health for Santa Clara County, said in a statement:

We must continue to base our decisions on the risks Covid-19 presents to our community, and we look forward to lifting the indoor mask requirement as soon as we can do so without putting vulnerable people at undue risk.”

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