Napa, Monterey, Santa Cruz County Join other Bay Area jurisdictions to encourage indoor masking

A further three Bay Area counties issued recommendations this week that their residents should resume wearing a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as COVID-19 cases crossed the entire state.

Counties Napa, Santa Cruz and Monterey jointly issued an advisory Monday with San Benito County to recommend residents of all four counties to wear face masks when inside public places such as grocery and retail stores, theaters and family entertainment centers.

Health officials in the four counties argued that although they had no plans to reintroduce a full-scale mandate, the recent state breadth in new cases – primarily among unvaccinated people – and the rise of the more contagious delta variant group are both on trend.

“Fully vaccinated people are well protected from infections and serious illness due to COVID-19 including the Delta variants,” the four counties said in a joint statement. “Vaccinating as many people as possible as soon as possible remains our best defense against serious COVID-19 infection and the damage it can do to our region.”

The advice came three days after health officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties and the city of Berkeley issued the same guide “out of an abundance of caution.”

Local, state and federal public health officials have warned that the pandemic is now progressing on twin tracks, with unvaccinated people increasingly at far greater risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19 than their fully vaccinated counterparts.

While unvaccinated residents have been required by the state to wear face clothing in indoor spaces, even after the state reopened on June 15, which also included the lifting of the mandate for fully vaccinated people, the enforcement mechanism to ensure unvaccinated people kept their masks has been largely restricted for self-certificate.

Health officials in the four counties urged local businesses to go one step further by adopting universal mask requirements when their customers are indoors.

“This will also make it easier for businesses to be sure that unvaccinated people are masked,” the four counties said.

Approximately 56 percent of eligible residents of Santa Cruz County are fully vaccinated, while 73 percent of eligible Napa County residents are fully vaccinated and 70 percent of Monterey County residents have received at least one vaccine dose.

Non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated residents are encouraged to visit to find a vaccination site near them, many of which now accept walk-in appointments.

Health officers across the Bay Area said they plan to resume the mask recommendations in the coming weeks to determine if further action is needed, including the implementation of a new mask mandate.

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