Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley Indoor Masking Orders Take Effect Tuesday
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, eight Bay Area health officers have issued health orders requiring masks indoors in public places.
The 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, August 3rd.
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.
Bay Area health officials urge all unvaccinated residents 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible. “We must act now to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community. If you are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine and have not yet done so, please do not wait any longer,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa. “During July the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in our county increased 400%. Four out of five of the COVID patients we see are not vaccinated, even though only one out of five Contra Costa adults are not vaccinated.”
These health orders aim to reduce community transmission of COVID-19 and protect everyone. Health officials are very concerned by the substantial levels of community transmission now found across the Bay Area, especially among unvaccinated people. 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. The new Health Orders require wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public settings. 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. 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.
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. For more information about COVID-19, and how to get a free vaccine near you, visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.
This sort of ad hoc fiat with only speculative, theoretical bases impugn public health officials’ credibility and stoke needless panic and rewards vaccine hesitancy.
Neither today’s county public health orders nor CDC’s interim guidelines they purport to implement identify a scintilla of clinical evidence from actual observations (c.f., research derived solely from theoretical computer models) that face coverings curtail infections. Moreover, locales that have imposed mask mandates have, in the main, fared no better — and often much worse — than jurisdictions that did not.
If imposing mask mandates promotes better public health outcomes, then why weren’t there better public health outcomes where mask mandates are imposed? Perhaps it is because masking engenders a false sense of security such that the public takes fewer more effective precautions. Perhaps it is because dirty masks themselves become viral vectors.
I do not know.
What we do know is that mask mandates have not yielded better outcomes.
I totally agree. CDC keeps moving the goalposts, and they’ve lost credibility.