Contra Costa County requiring facemasks indoors as COVID cases soar

As the omicron variant continues circulating around the Bay Area, Contra Costa County will soon require that masks be worn in all public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

Previously, fully vaccinated public speakers and performers, and fully vaccinated groups of 100 or fewer were allowed to remove their face coverings under controlled conditions. However, starting Wednesday everyone must wear a mask indoors, which many Bay Area counties already require.

"The omicron variant is very contagious, and we now know that anyone, regardless of vaccination status, can spread this variant to other people," said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, Contra Costa County deputy health officer. "We anticipate the case rate and hospitalization numbers to increase over the coming weeks.

The first case of the omicron variant was first identified in the county on Dec. 18, and since then case rates and hospitalizations have significantly increased. The average number of daily new COVID-19 cases has increased 149% over the last week and hospitalizations have risen 31%.