Bay Area urges residents to wear masks in indoor public places as Delta variant spreads

A cadre of Bay Area health officials issued a recommendation Friday that everyone wear masks indoors while in public places, responding to increases in coronavirus cases as the Delta variant spreads.

Doing so would be “an extra precautionary measure for those who are fully vaccinated” and “ensure easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings,” officials wrote in a joint statement.

The recommendation came from officials representing Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties, as well as the city of Berkeley.

Los Angeles County on Thursday went a big step further, requiring everyone — vaccinated and unvaccinated — to wear masks inside public places. COVID-19 cases in L.A. County have increased significantly over the last week.

The L.A. health order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

Long Beach, which has its own public health department, will align with L.A. County’s order. Pasadena, which also has its own health department, already recommends that everyone — including the fully vaccinated — wear masks in indoor public settings, and the city is “reviewing options for a mandate,” according to a spokeswoman.

L.A. County got some pushback last month when it recommended mask wearing for everyone indoors. But some other counties are now following suit, and the California Department of Public Health said it “supports local health departments, like Los Angeles County, making stricter policies based on the conditions in their community.”

Times data show that 51.8% of all Californians are fully vaccinated to date, though wide regional gaps persist. In San Diego County, the proportion is 57%; in Orange County, 54.7%; and in L.A. County, 52.2%. The rates are much lower in Riverside County (42.1%) and San Bernardino County (39.2%).

By contrast, the San Francisco Bay Area has done much better with vaccinations. San Francisco has reported 68.9% of its residents fully vaccinated; Santa Clara County, Northern California’s most populous, has 67.4% of its population fully vaccinated.

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