Sonoma County, along with six other Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley, has re-instated a mask mandate for all indoor work settings and public spaces. The decision comes less than a week after state officials recommended all people, vaccinated or not, mask up indoors, in places with high transmission rates.
"Every county represented here today has substantial or high levels of community transmission," said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. "We must take this action to end this summer surge."
Once again, you must wear a face covering inside places like offices, gyms, restaurants and theaters, unless you are working alone in a closed room, actively eating or drinking, or swimming or showering in a fitness facility.
Like in all Bay Area counties, Sonoma County Health officer Dr. Sundari Mase says the decision is based on the increase in both COVID cases and hospitalizations throughout the county, in mostly unvaccinated residents.
"It's important that this mask mandate be for vaccinated as well as unvaccinated individuals because we are facing a much more aggressive and contagious opponent right now, known as the delta variant," Mase said. "It is now widespread in our communities, making up close to 95 percent of the cases."
The county's COVID hospitalization rate has quadrupled since the state's June 15 reopening and 86 percent of currently-admitted patients are unvaccinated.
And the county's overall case rate has more than doubled since June, with cases among unvaccinated residents almost six times higher than for the fully vaccinated.
But positive cases among vaccinated residents are increasing too since mask mandates were dropped in mid-June.
Mase says vaccination is still a primary tool to get case numbers down.
"Fully vaccinated residents are still far less likely to become infected and are well protected against severe illness, as well as hospitalization and death due to the virus," Mase said.