Napa joins seven other Bay Area counties with public indoor mask mandate

FILE - A woman who is folding her clothes inside a laundromat is wearing a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, July 18, 2021 in South Pasadena, CA.

Napa County on Thursday announced it is joining seven other Bay Area counties and the City of Berkeley with an indoor mask mandate, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations. 

The health order will go into effect Friday August 6 at 12:01 a.m. The order requires face coverings when indoors at workplaces and public settings regardless of vaccination status with limited exemptions. In addition, it recommends that businesses provide masks to those patronizing their establishments. 

Napa County health officials said the rise in ICU admissions and hospitalizations has been significant and is primarily due to the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant.

"The Delta variant makes up 85% of the variants circulating in California and emerging evidence indicates that the Delta variant is more transmissible than prior variants of the virus, may cause more severe illness, and that even fully vaccinated individuals can spread the virus to others," a press release from Napa County read.

Health officials said universal indoor masking is a less-disruptive measure considering the previous backlash against business shutdowns. As the situation stands, Napa County Health officer Dr. Karen Relucio said she expects schools can reopen in full for in-person classes for the 2021-2022 school year. However, she notes she will monitor the situation and could make modifications if need be. 

"Although Napa County has high vaccination rates, with 75% of eligible residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there is still a concerning rise in hospitalizations that is threatening hospital capacity," Dr. Relucio said. 

This week, most Bay Area counties with the exception of Solano County, mandated indoor masking in public.