Bay Area counties issue indoor mask mandate

STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN, GRAPHIC BY ALLISON HUANG

Santa Clara County residents will have to wear masks in indoor public settings effective tomorrow, August 3. The mandate applies to all residents, regardless of vaccination status, and was jointly issued by eight Bay Area health officers today.

The order, which builds off of the looser masking recommendation issued by the same counties in mid-July, aligns with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bay Area health officers will track hospitalization rates and case counts in determining when to end the mandate; the health officials offered no target date or metrics for ending the order.

“Vaccines remain the most powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19, including the Delta variant,” the order reads. “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 noted that the vast majority of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, and the few that are vaccinated have other comorbidities or are elderly.

Today’s mask mandate does not ban indoor dining, although the health officers recommended that unvaccinated residents avoid “high risk” indoor activities, such as indoor dining and visiting gyms and movie theaters.

Santa Clara County’s test positivity rate currently sits at 3.1%, a percentage not seen since Feb. 6. 

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