Santa Clara County will keep its indoor mask mandate despite the statewide lifting of the requirement starting Feb. 16, health officials announced today.
The county’s call contrasts neighboring San Mateo County, which opted to follow the state’s decision to not extend its indoor mask mandate and instead let it expire next week.
Health officials did set criteria for removing the mandate, though, which are less stringent than the previous set of criteria outlined by Bay Area health officers last fall when the Delta variant was the predominant strain of the virus.
Previously, removal of the mask mandate was contingent upon an 80% vaccination rate; stable and low hospitalizations; and a 7-day average of new cases to be approximately 150, or meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “moderate” tier (below 50 per 100,000 residents).
The former two still remain — the county’s only met the vaccination requirement — but the new criteria for average daily cases is 550 or below. The county’s current average is 1,760.
County health officers attributed the loosened requirement to the fact that the Omicron variant poses less of a risk of severe illness and hospitalization.
“We must continue to base our decisions on the risks COVID-19 presents to our community, and we look forward to lifting the indoor mask requirement as soon as we can do so without putting vulnerable people at undue risk,” said County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody in a press release. “Universal indoor masking is critical to protect our community, especially community members who are older or immunocompromised.”