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San Francisco, neighboring counties reinstate mask mandate amid delta variant concerns

A bartender takes drink orders at Oasis on July 29, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Health officials in seven Northern California counties on Monday mandated masks be used in indoor public places, elevating a facial covering recommendation they issued in July to a requirement.

The coalition of officials — from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma Counties and the City of Berkeley — first advised residents to wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status just over two weeks ago. Citing a surge in cases attributed to the highly contagious delta variant, the new mandate will take effect Tuesday.

“Indoor masking is a temporary measure that will help us deal with the Delta variant, which is causing a sharp increase in cases, and we know increases in hospitalizations and deaths will follow,” San Francisco acting health officer Dr. Naveena Bobba said in a statement.

According to the CDC, Contra Costa County recorded 2,723 new cases over the past seven days, a spike of 53% from the week prior. Sonoma County’s case total increased 58%, with 684 new coronavirus patients last week.

San Francisco County reported 1,513 additional cases last week, 47% more than the previous seven days. Marin, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties each saw cases climb between 33% and 41% last week, while Alameda County’s 2,385 new cases last week marked an 11% jump from the week before.

The mask mandate arrives after Los Angeles County responded to climbing coronavirus case totals by reinstating its mask mandate July 17. In addition to wearing masks inside, the order calls for businesses to implement the indoor face-covering order and requests that employers provide masks to their clientele.

“When we all wear face coverings indoors, we are protecting our fellow residents and helping our healthcare workers,” Bobba said.

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