A step back: Santa Clara County recommends indoor masking

STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN

Given a rise in local COVID-19 transmission, Santa Clara County health officials Friday recommended wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, in a step back from June’s significant ease in health restrictions. 

The recommendation falls short of a mandate, and instead asks that residents wear masks in public places “to ensure easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked,” and as an “extra precautionary measure.”

It also asks that businesses once again adopt universal masking requirements for customers.

The county’s recommendation — which was made jointly with seven other Bay Area counties — comes as the county’s test positivity rate has risen to 1.7%, a number last recorded in February. 

From late April to early this month, the county test positivity rate has dwindled around 0.5%, while the highest rate this year was in early January, at 9.2%. 

Health officials have largely blamed the highly transmissible Delta variant — which now accounts for 43% of cases in California, and 58% of cases nationally — for the spike in the test positivity rate.

The county will revisit the recommendation in the coming weeks as health officials monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccination rates.

“Fully vaccinated people are well-protected from infections and serious illness due to known COVID-19 variants,” a county press release reads. “Vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, continues to be our best defense against severe COVID-19 infection.”

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