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County recommends indoor mask wearing regardless of vaccination status

Rising new cases concern health officials

By Sam Richards

Staff writer


(Friday, July 16) With COVID-19 case numbers and rates rising locally, and with increased circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant, health officials from Contra Costa County – as well as from Alameda, Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties, plus the City of Berkeley – on Friday announced recommendations that everyone wear masks indoors in public places as an extra precautionary measure for those who are fully vaccinated and to ensure easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings.

According to a Friday news release from Contra Costa County, as of July 14, Contra Costa’s reported new cases are averaging 93 per day, and the daily case rate is now 5.7 per 100,000 and rising.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that Delta variants are now responsible for 58% of new infections across the country.

Health officials said that fully vaccinated people are well-protected from infections and serious illness due to known COVID-19 variants, including Delta variants. Vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, continues to be the best defense against severe COVID-19 infection, and the harm it can do to our region. Vaccines are safe, effective, free and widely available to everyone 12 and older, health officials added.

Out of an abundance of caution, people are recommended to wear masks indoors in settings like grocery or retail stores, theaters and family entertainment centers – even if they are fully vaccinated – as an added layer of protection for unvaccinated residents. Businesses are urged to adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas of their businesses to provide better protection to their employees and customers. Workplaces must comply with Cal/OSHA requirements, and fully vaccinated employees are encouraged to wear masks indoors if their employer has not confirmed the vaccination status of those around them.

“The highly infectious Delta variant is now the predominant strain in Contra Costa County,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer. “While vaccines remain our best tool against COVID-19, masking in indoor and crowded outdoor settings will help us curb the spread of this latest wave of infection.”

Bay Area Health Officers will revisit this recommendation in the coming weeks as they continue to monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths and increasing vaccination rates throughout the region. Data can be monitored here.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. People with only one vaccine dose of Pfizer or Moderna are not fully protected; completion of the vaccine series is necessary to provide full protection.

Visit the Contra Costa Health Services website to learn where vaccinations are available around the county, or call 1-833-829-2626.

Rossmoor and Contra Costa Health Services will hold a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic for residents, staff and their friends and family on Friday, July 23 from 10:30 to noon in the Fireside Room at Gateway. The Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer vaccines will be available. Moderna is available for anyone needing a second shot.

To ensure the correct number of vaccines are available on July 23, call the Counseling office at 1-925-988-7750 or email to register for the vaccine clinic.

Walk-ins are welcome on the day in the Fireside Room, but registration is strongly encouraged.