Mask up again: California county reinstates mandate amid rising COVID-19 cases
- Officials said the daily reported cases have exceeded the peak of last summer's delta wave
- The mandate came into effect Friday
- The county's health agency said the virus is circulating at "very high levels"
Residents in California's Bay Area, Alameda County, will have to mask up in most public indoor settings again amid a rising number COVID-19 cases and hospitalization.
Officials said that the daily reported cases have exceeded the peak of last summer's delta wave. The mandate came into effect Friday.
Authorities also said that the cases are "now approaching levels seen during the winter 2020-21 wave, at comparable lab-reported testing levels."
"Hospitalizations are also rising after remaining stable during the early weeks of this wave. Daily new admissions of patients with COVID-19 rapidly increased in recent days and now exceed last summer’s peak. We expect to reach [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC)] ‘High’ COVID-19 Community Level soon, given current trends," the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency said in a release. "In addition, when COVID-19 cases started to rise again in April, we did not observe in our data the disproportionate impacts on communities of color. That is no longer true and Hispanic/Latino residents now have the highest case rate in Alameda County among the largest race/ethnicity groups."
The agency said the virus is circulating at "very high levels" and not wearing a mask could give rise to chances of contracting the infection even if someone is vaccinated.
"Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment," Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss explained in a statement. "We cannot ignore the data, and we can’t predict when this wave may end. Putting our masks back on gives us the best opportunity to limit the impact of a prolonged wave on our communities."
Kimi Watkins-Tartt, Director of AC HCSA’s Public Health Department said: "We are seeing the same pattern of disproportionate impact on hard hit communities play out again with rising cases... Many Black and Brown residents are frontline workers who can’t work from home and are in workplaces where they frequently interact with the public. A masking order will limit the spread of COVID in these vulnerable communities."