Bay Area health officials on Friday urged residents to wear face masks in indoor public settings as COVID-19 infections driven by highly contagious virus variants multiply across the region.
“If you have recently chosen not to wear a mask in indoor public places, now is a good time to start again,” said Dr. George Han, the county’s deputy health officer for the Santa Clara Public Health Department. “Highly infectious subtypes are spreading here. If you add layers of protection, like a high quality mask, it reduces the risk to you and the chances of infecting others. ,
Health officials from the city of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma, as well as the city of Berkeley, joined Friday’s petition for more precautions, which if Also include encouraging residents to receive vaccine boosters, if eligible.
The Bay Area has emerged as a national hot spot for rising cases driven by cousins of the Omicron version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which caused a massive wave of infections last winter. But although hospitalizations have increased, they remain manageable, which health officials attribute to the region’s high vaccination rates.
Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicolas Moss, however, noted that the Bay Area has the highest number of cases in California, with levels not seen since last summer’s increase in the Delta variant, and that the number is based on home testing. Unreported infections detected through the medium are more likely to be caused by.
“Daily reported cases in Alameda County have reached levels seen during the delta wave,” Moss said. “Fortunately, there are far fewer cases than what we saw during the omicron surge, and hospitalizations have only increased marginally so far. A little caution can help keep it that way.”
The omicron version first appeared in the US in December, but that version is known as BA.1, which has since been replaced by sub-versions known as BA.2, which are now 56 nationally. % cases, and BA.2.12.1, now 43%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties are now in the CDC’s yellow “medium” level for COVID-19 community levels, indicating that cases are starting to strain health care systems. and those at high risk of serious illness should consider wearing a mask.
In San Francisco, hospitalizations are rising, but relatively low compared to the previous surge and are within the capacity of the hospital system, said health official, Dr. Susan Phillip.
Nationally, 14% of the counties are at that moderate community level, and 4% are at the high level where masks are advised for everyone in public. Those high community level counties are concentrated in the Northeast, in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
All states requiring face masks statewide, including California, omitted them by April. California also lifted its mask requirements for schools, and many around the Bay Area have reported clusters of COVID-19 cases among students after spring break and prom.
A judge overturned the requirement to wear masks on public transport, including planes, buses and trains. But locally, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System still requires them.
Bay Area health officials said that although it is not required, masking is strongly recommended by the California Department of Public Health for most indoor indoor settings, and health officials say high-quality masks – N95 or KN95 or Snug-fitting surgical masks – are indoors. “A wise choice that will help people protect their health.”
“People are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 right now,” Philippe said, “and we’re urging people to take personal protection against the virus.”