Today, Bay Area Health Officials urged residents to get vaccinated if you are eligible and issued orders requiring the use of face coverings indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the now dominant Delta variant. The Counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma and the City of Berkeley released mask mandates in their jurisdictions, saying extra protection is needed to stop this Summer Surge.
Today’s orders require all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings when indoors in public settings, with limited exceptions, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 3.
The new Health Orders require wearing a medical-grade mask or well-fitting cloth mask indoors in public settings — neck gaiters are not an appropriate face covering. Indoor settings, whether public or private, are higher risk for COVID-19 transmission, especially when you are with people you do not live with. Health officials also recommend that all employers make face coverings available to individuals entering their businesses, and businesses are required to implement the indoor face covering order, according to Santa Clara County Public Health.
“Face coverings are one of our most effective tools in this pandemic. Increasing our use of masks is the easiest and best way to protect the health of our community from the Delta variant while still allowing many people to engage in the activities they love,” said Dr. George Han, Deputy Health Officer for the County of Santa Clara.
The health officials all agreed that vaccination continues to protect against severe COVID-19 illness, but with the COVID-19 Delta variant now infecting a small percentage of vaccinated people as well as many unvaccinated people, masks are a necessary added level of protection.
“The vaccines have proven that they can effectively prevent severe illness and death, and they are continuing to do so,” said Dr. Han. “However, because the Delta variant is transmitted alarmingly easily, including by people who are vaccinated, we need the added protection of masks back into our lives until everyone is able to be vaccinated, especially children.”
Vaccines remain the most powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Nonetheless, the Delta variant is infecting a small percentage of the vaccinated in the Bay Area — who still remain strongly protected against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. In those instances of infection in a vaccinated person, a face covering prevents further spread.
The health officers said they have seen COVID-19 cases rising concerningly fast, mostly amongst unvaccinated communities. There are some cases of vaccinated people getting COVID-19, but many are not serious enough to be hospitalized, however, nonvaccinated hospitalizations are also rising. In part, this is due to the widespread COVID-19 Delta variant, which is substantially more transmissible than previous forms of the virus. Recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also indicates that even fully vaccinated individuals can in some cases spread the Delta variant to others, and so indoor use of face coverings provides an important added layer of protection.
“Today’s Health Orders are consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health, which recommend that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks while in indoor public settings,” said a press release from Santa Clara County Public Health. “Bay Area Health Officers will continue to monitor data, including increasing vaccination throughout the region, to determine when the Orders can be adjusted or lifted.”
More information on the County’s health order can be found on the Public Health Orders web page.
Bay Area health officials urge all unvaccinated residents 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The latest information about vaccines and appointments is available on the County’s vaccine website at sccfreevax.org.