Update: Napa County also issued an indoor mask mandate on August 6, 2021.
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Indoor mask mandates are back Tuesday in seven Bay Area counties.
Even if you’re fully vaccinated.
A COVID-19 summer surge has health officials concerned and reinstating indoor mask-wearing to bring cases back down – especially as the more contagious delta variant is estimated to make up nearly 80% of new cases in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Here are the counties that now require you to wear your mask inside public places:
- San Francisco
- San Mateo
- Contra Costa
- Santa Clara
Bay Area officials said the delta variant is infecting a “small percentage” of vaccinated Bay Area residents but they are still strongly protected against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
They hope that the mask mandate will prevent the need for more drastic measures.
“As San Mateo County joins its neighbors in issuing these orders, the goal is to avoid disrupting businesses and residents’ everyday activities,” said Scott Morrow, MD, San Mateo County’s health officer during Monday’s announcement. “We want our communities to stay open while being as safe as possible.”
Two counties, Napa and Solano, do not agree with the vast majority of Bay Area public health officials who announced a return to a mask mandate to help prevent the spread of the delta variant.
Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela T. Matyas says it’s because their cases are “very clearly not occurring in public places,” but rather inside people’s homes during parties, camping events, and other social gatherings.
In July for example, a COVID outbreak was reported at a camping trip put on by a Castro Valley church. They took hundreds of kids to the Sierra National Forest.
Nearly 58% of Americans age 12 and up are fully vaccinated at this time. But that means there is still a large number of unvaccinated Americans, in addition to the kids younger than 12 who are not yet authorized to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
It’s prompted leaders from the local all the way to federal government to consider requiring employees get vaccinated or require them to follow frequent testing.
“We have the tools to prevent this new wave of COVID from shutting down our businesses, our schools, our society,” President Joe Biden said. He is requiring federal employees to either verify their vaccination, or else wear masks and get tested regularly.
Schools like California State University recently said students and faculty who return to campus must be vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says the U.S. can “expect more pain and suffering” ahead and that most new infections are among the unvaccinated.
Data shows that the current summer surge in cases in the U.S. is already higher than summer 2020, and we haven’t even hit the peak of the surge yet.
However, COVID-19 deaths are dramatically down since last year, and health officials credit the vaccine for this.
While some fully vaccinated people have had COVID-19 infections since being vaccinated, experts maintain that the number of breakthrough cases is extremely low, and new cases are mostly impacting unvaccinated Americans.