COVID update: California adopts updated mask guidance as Santa Clara County pushes steadily toward yellow tier eligibility

Federal and state health officials eased mask guidance over recent days, in light of declining COVID cases and encouraging vaccination data. On Monday, the California Department of Public Health issued the below guidance around masks, aligning with last week’s guidance issued from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Key provisions include:

  • Those fully vaccinated are not required to wear face coverings outdoors, except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events.
  • Unvaccinated individuals must wear face coverings outdoors anytime physical social distance cannot be maintained.
  • Indoors, outside of one’s home, including on public transportation, masks are required regardless of vaccination status.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated may visit indoors or outdoors without masks with other individuals who are fully vaccinated.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated may visit indoors and outdoors without masks with unvaccinated individuals from a single household, provided the unvaccinated are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
  • Masks are not required indoors among individuals in the same household, alone in a car or closed office or room.
  • Children under two are exempt, as are those with a health condition preventing the use of a mask (a face shield is required in this case).

For full California guidance click here.

Santa Clara County Pushes toward Yellow Tier as vaccinations top 70 percent mark

Santa Clara County health officials presented new data to the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday signaling positive trends in local health metrics.

“We are making slow, steady progress,” said County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. The seven-day rolling average of new cases per day fell to double digits for the first time in seven months, and COVID-related hospitalizations and lab-confirmed deaths continue to decline, with race and ethnic disparities also decreasing.

The county’s adjusted case rate and positivity rate this week fell to a 7-day rolling daily average of 2.3 and 0.9 cases, respectively, edging Santa Clara County further toward the yellow tier. For now, the adjusted case rate remains in orange tier territory; once the adjusted case rate falls below 2.0, the county will be eligible on both measures to enter the yellow tier. 

Dr. Marty Fenstersheib,COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer for the county of Santa Clara, reported that more than 70 percent of the county population has received at least one dose of vaccine; close to 43 percent have completed their vaccinations.

Equity gaps in the vaccine population also are narrowing, and vaccine authorization from the CDC for ages 12 to 15 is expected sometime late next week, expanding eligibility to some 105,000 young residents in Santa Clara County. 

While vaccine supplies are much improved, demand for vaccines has slowed, especially second vaccines, causing concern among health officials. “We’ve come so far, but we aren’t in the clear yet,” Dr. Fenstersheib said in a statement last week. “I am urging everyone to continue getting vaccinated. This will save lives, protect our community from dangerous variants, and help us get out of this pandemic. We won’t reach the finish line until everyone who is eligible gets a shot.”

View this week’s health official report to the Board of Supervisors here.