Bay Area health officers recommend ‘universal’ mask-wearing in public indoor settings

“Out of an abundance of caution,” Bay Area health officers are recommending that everyone wear masks indoors while in public, including people who are vaccinated, in response to rising COVID-19 cases including the highly transmissible Delta variant.

People are recommended to wear masks indoors in settings such as grocery and retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers, “even if they are fully vaccinated as an added layer of protection for unvaccinated residents,” health officers for the counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley said in a joint statement on Friday. The health officers also recommend that businesses adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas.

Health officials are meanwhile urging residents 12 and older to get vaccinated, saying fully vaccinated people “are well-protected from infections and serious illness due to known COVID-19 variants including Delta variants.”

COVID-19 cases are on the rise, officials say, with Delta variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 comprising of 43 percent of all specimens sequenced in California last month. The Delta variant is responsible for 58 percent of new infections in the U.S. As of July 8, 85 total positive infections in Santa Clara County within several days were connected to the Delta variant. As of July 15, the County was reporting a 7-day rolling average of 95 new COVID cases, up from 27 cases on the same scale one month earlier.

Bay Area health officers said they would revisit their indoor masking recommendation in the coming weeks as they monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccination rates.

“The Delta variant is spreading quickly, and everyone should take action to protect themselves and others against this potentially deadly virus,” Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said in the statement.