State to keep indoor mask mandate as Santa Clara County drops to yellow tier

STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN

Santa Clara County today dropped to the yellow tier of coronavirus restrictions, as the state continues to eye its June 15 full reopening that’s contingent upon “stable and low” hospitalization rates and sufficient vaccine supply.

The yellow tier is the state’s least restrictive tier of coronavirus restrictions, and allows for expanded capacities for businesses across the board.

The drop in tier assignment comes as California health officials yesterday announced that the state will keep its existing masking guidance — even in light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s loosened mandate — until the state’s mid-June reopening.

State guidance only requires masks outdoors for vaccinated individuals when at “crowded events,” and for unvaccinated people outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Face coverings are required in all indoor settings outside the home regardless of vaccination status.

After June 15, the state expects to fall in line with the CDC’s guidance and allow vaccinated individuals to go maskless in both indoor and outdoor settings.

“This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change while we continue our relentless focus on delivering vaccines,” the state’s guidance reads.

“I will admit to you, it is difficult after wearing this mask for so long to feel comfortable without it on, despite the fact that I’m vaccinated,” Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said at a press conference today. “And it’s going to take time for many of us to make that change.”

The state appears to be on track for its June 15 reopening, with a 0.9% positivity rate and a steady supply of vaccine; as of May 15, 74% of all Santa Clara County residents 16 and up had received at least one dose of vaccine, and eligibility just recently expanded to adolescents as young as 12.

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