Napa, Monterey, Santa Cruz counties and others join in recommendation to mask indoors in public

Napa County has now joined the majority of Bay Area counties that recommend its residents wear face coverings indoors when in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the highly-infectious Delta variant takes hold. 

The North Bay county announced their decision Tuesday, along with Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. In the Bay Area, Solano County is the last holdout in not making this recommendation after last week, eight Bay Area health officers made the same decision. 

The recommendation is not an order but is out of an abundance of caution regardless of your vaccination status. County health officials said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that Delta variants are now responsible for 58% of new infections in the U.S.

The reversal has led to some confusion on masking guidelines throughout the Bay Area, but Napa County clarifies you should mask up when at indoor places like retail, grocery stores, theaters and family entertainment centers. 

Businesses are encouraged to adopt a universal masking policy to better protect employees and customers. In addition, it makes it easier for businesses to ensure unvaccinated people are masked, Napa County officials said. 

Earlier this week Dr. John Swartzberg of U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health told KTVU, the honor system businesses rely on to know who is vaccinated and who is not is not working. 

Health officials have noted COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing, primarily among unvaccinated populations and that the Delta variant passes much easier from person-to-person compared to previous strains of the novel coronavirus. 

For those still wary of getting vaccinated, health experts have stressed that the COVID-19 vaccine provides protection against the disease, including the Delta variant and can prevent serious illness and hospitalization. 

People are advised to wear a mask in crowded settings. In the lead up to the June 15 California economic reopening, where the state did away with its color-coded tiered system — the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, state health officials issued guidance on how to protect yourself in what they consider "mega events." 

Mega events are defined as greater than 5,000 people in an indoor setting or 10,000 or more for outdoor events.

A recent study by the Bay Area News Group shows that if those color-coded tiers were still in place today, 29 California counties, including San Francisco would be in the most restrictive purple tier. 

52% of California's eligible population is fully vaccinated. Napa County's coronavirus cases increased from 10,159 to 10,205 from last Friday to Monday. Their number of COVID deaths remain at 83.