OAKLAND, Calif. - Beginning Friday, June 3, masks must be worn in indoor settings including offices, restaurants, public transportation, and other public places in Alameda County due to the rising number of COVID cases.
Coronavirus cases in Alameda County have recently surpassed the levels seen last summer when the Delta variant ran rampantly and are approaching the peak that hit during winter 2020-2021, the county said.
People of color, in particular Latinos, are experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates.
"Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment," said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. "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."
The mask mandate also applies to government offices, healthcare facilities, shelters and rideshare services like Lyft and Uber, among others.
"I know that people are tired. We are in our third year here and we don’t take an action like this lightly," said Moss. "In the last several weeks our hospitalization numbers have really climbed up. There’s over 100 people in the hospital today, and we are starting to see cases in the intensive care unit. And so that increased burden of severe disease is what has prompted us to make this policy change."
The mask mandate does not apply to K-12 schools that are finishing the 2021-2022 school year. But masks will be mandatory in other settings for children, such as daycare centers and summer school classrooms.
Berkeley is also excluded from the mask requirement because that city operates an independent health department.
Oakland International Airport tweeted everyone over the age of 2 must wear a face covering to comply with the mandate.
AC Transit released a statement, asking riders to comply. Part of it reads, "We know that this is an ever-changing process and understand that changes can generate frustration. However, slowing and ultimately eliminating the transmission of covid-19 is a community effort."
Dr. John Swartzberg with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health said a good, snug mask, like a N95 or KN95 does work in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
"That plus being up-to-date with your vaccination gives you a lot of protection," said Swartzberg. "And it protects people around you in case you are asymptomatic and infected."