SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Since Bay Area health officers instituted an indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status, it’s become routine to see people with a face covering.
But improving COVID data and Santa Cruz County’s decision to lift its mandate has health officers examining what it will take to drop that mandate in other Bay Area counties.
In San Francisco, which is highly vaccinated, many prefer to keep the indoor mask mandate in place.
In late October of last year, we saw the beginning of a big surge in COVID cases, that coupled with the delta variant has medical experts advising caution when it comes to dropping the mandate.
“Obviously we all want to move quickly and have this done with but this may not be the right time,” Dr. George Rutherford said.
Dr. Rutherford is a professor of epidemiology at UCSF. While he admits the Bay Area is doing better than most, he says this is a time not to be too fast.
During a briefing Tuesday before the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, health officer Dr. Sara Cody said Bay Area health officers are working together to set criteria that must be met before a mandate can be dropped.
“We need to look at the case rates to make sure they are low and stable,” Dr. Cody said. “We need to look at the impact on hospitals and we have to look at some measure of vaccination and protection of the population.”
Bay Area health officers are expected to announce that criteria on Thursday.
Dr. Rutherford says because Santa Cruz County lifted its mask mandate before everyone else, it can act like a canary in a coal mine, meaning if things start to go bad, it will serve as a warning to Bay Area counties.