California county reinstates mask mandate in indoor settings
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An increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations has caused one California county to reinstate its mask requirements for most indoor settings.

The order is set to begin Friday in all Alameda County cities except Berkeley, as it has its own local health jurisdiction, NewsNation local affiliate KRON reported.

These mask requirements don’t apply to K-12 schools through the end of the 2021-22 school year, according to KRON, although they will be necessary for all other settings where children are present, such as childcare facilities and summer school.

“Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment,” Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said in a press release. “We cannot ignore the data, and we can’t predict when this wave may end. Putting our masks back on gives us the best opportunity to limit the impact of a prolonged wave on our communities.”

Alameda County Public Health Department data shows that while COVID hospitalizations went down earlier this year from the more than 400 being reported in January, they have been trending upward over the last couple of months. As of June 1, the number of people hospitalized with the virus was 106.

According to the health department, daily reported COVID cases are now exceeding the peak of last summer’s Delta wave, and are now approaching levels seen during winter 2020-21.

Health officials expect to reach the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “High” COVID-19 Community Level soon, given current trends, the press release said. These community levels, based on hospital bed usage, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID cases in an area, are meant to help communities decide what preventative measures to take, the CDC’s website said.

While in April, the health department did not observe in its data a disproportionate impact of COVID on communities of color, that has since changed. Hispanic and Latino residents in Alameda County now have the highest case rate among the largest racial and ethnic groups in the area.

KRON reached out to several other Bay area counties about potentially bringing back indoor masking. San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Napa, Contra Costa, Sonoma and Santa Clara counties all said they do not plan to do so at this time.

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