Alameda County stands alone in requiring indoor mask mandate

Alameda County is the only jurisdiction in the San Francisco Bay Area that is initiating an indoor mask mandate, KTVU has learned.

There was no time frame made public as to when the mask mandate might end. 

After the East Bay health department re-issued the mandate to begin on Friday, KTVU reached out to all the other health departments across the region.

No other health department said they planned to require masks indoors. Since the pandemic began in 2020, the Bay Area jurisdictions have typically acted in concert with each other.

The Santa Clara County health department said it always "re-evaluates" its data in terms of vaccination and case rates, as well as its healthcare capacity but at this time has no plans to require masking indoors, thought they strongly recommended it.

San Francisco also told KTVU that its health department continued to "strongly recommend" indoor masking but is not requiring it, even though COVID cases are high and hospitalizations are increasing.  

San Francisco noted that because so many people are vaccinated, the city is not seeing high rates of severe illness. In fact, San Francisco has the lowest death rate in the country, health officials said. 

Alameda County's decision is a bit unusual as well, since it's community risk for COVID is considered medium right now, while five other counties – Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Santa Clara – are in the CDC's high level for community COVID risk. 

But still, the rising cases has Alameda County officials concerned. 

Alameda County had 106 people in hospitals because of COVID this week. 

"In the last several weeks our hospitalization numbers have really climbed," Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said. "We're starting to see people in the ICU."