Bay Area health officers are recommending that everyone wear masks indoors while in public, including people who are vaccinated, “out of an abundance of caution,” citing rising COVID-19 cases including the highly transmissible Delta variant.
People are recommended to wear masks indoors in settings such as grocery and retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers, “even if they are fully vaccinated as an added layer of protection for unvaccinated residents,” health officers for the counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley said in a joint statement on Friday. The health officers also recommend that businesses adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas.
Health officials are urging residents 12 and older to get vaccinated, saying fully vaccinated people “are well-protected from infections and serious illness due to known COVID-19 variants including Delta variants.”
COVID-19 cases are on the rise, officials say, with Delta variants comprising of 43 percent of all specimens sequenced in California in June. The Delta variant is responsible for 58 percent of new infections in the U.S.
San Mateo County is seeing an average of 27 new COVID cases per day, up from an average of 12 cases per day a couple of weeks ago, Louise Rogers, chief of San Mateo County Health, told the County’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Rogers cited the County’s seven-day average at 3.5 per 100,000. Hospitalizations remain in the single digits. County health officials are actively monitoring the rise in cases, particularly with the Delta variant quickly becoming the major strain circulating the state and nation.
“The Delta variant has higher transmissibility, which means it is more contagious,” said Rogers. “The epidemic is spreading faster in communities because the virus is more contagious. The good news is that the vaccines are effective against the Delta variant.”
Rogers added, “Unfortunately, the bad news is that because vaccination gaps remain, there is an increase of cases throughout the Bay Area and California, primarily in unvaccinated communities. In reports throughout the country, over 95 percent of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID are among those who are unvaccinated,” Rogers said.
Bay Area health officers said they would revisit their indoor masking recommendation in the coming weeks as they monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccination rates.
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