Indoor mask mandate could be lifted by New Year's in CoCo County

If Contra Costa County stays on track in its fight against COVID-19, residents may be able to celebrate New Year's Eve without masks indoors if they're fully vaccinated.   

Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano told the county board of supervisors on Tuesday that other Bay Area counties will lift indoor mask requirements at businesses like restaurants and gyms once three health standards are met.  

 In order to qualify, Contra Costa must enter the yellow tier of infection rate as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and have fewer than 95 hospitalizations countywide. 

The county must also have a vaccination rate of at least 80 percent or be eight weeks past the date that vaccines are eligible for children ages 5 to 11 years old, which could be as early as Oct. 26, he said.  

As of Monday, Contra Costa has 69 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 72 percent of residents are vaccinated.  

 "If current data trends continue, Contra Costa may enter the yellow tier of transmission as soon as the end of this month and may meet all the criteria by December or early January," Farnitano told the board.   

"It really depends on the actions of our community," Farnitano said. "The more people who get vaccinated, the more people who are safe and wear masks, the faster we will get to getting these metrics met and getting to the place where we can all start safely taking off our masks."   

County Health Services Director Anna Roth told the board the numbers are headed the right direction.   

"Cases in our community are going down," Roth sad. "Over the past two weeks our rates have dropped 34 percent overall and hospitalizations by 15 percent. As of yesterday, we had 69 people in the hospital. Just over a month ago we had 186, which was nearly three times the amount we had yesterday, so we're seeing great improvement."