Local health officials agreed on new criteria for indoor masking, but San Mateo County will not lift its mask mandate yet.
The new rules, released by the health officers from nine Bay Area counties and cities in a statement on Thursday, allows each jurisdiction to independently lift its indoor mask mandate when it meets a set of three criteria.
The first requirement is that the county’s COVID-19 transmission fall to “moderate,” meaning its case and positive test rate go down from current levels and stay down for at least three weeks. The health officers also require that 80 percent of all residents are fully vaccinated and that local hospitalizations remain low.
San Mateo County does not currently meet the first standard, as transmission in the county remains “substantial,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. County data released Wednesday shows that 82 percent of all residents — including kids who aren’t currently eligible for a shot — are vaccinated. Local hospital capacity appears stable at around a dozen COVID-19 patients on any given day, but that metric will ultimately be judged by Health Officer Scott Morrow, the statement reads.
The indoor mask mandate could also be lifted eight weeks after a COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use for 5- to 11-year-olds, according to the statement. No other jurisdictions currently meet all three of the criteria. San Francisco will go ahead and lift part of its mask mandate on Oct. 13, allowing vaccinated people to go unmasked indoors where they’ve proven their vaccination status and where no children are present.
Some spaces, like public transportation and hospitals, will remain under a federal mask order until it is lifted nationwide. State regulations would also require anyone who remains unvaccinated to continue wearing a mask in all indoor public spaces. Local masking guidelines at schools won’t be affected by this new order.
“As a safety measure, along with vaccination, face coverings have been key to our success in the Bay Area in reducing transmission and protecting public health,” Morrow wrote in the statement. “As we look toward lifting the mandate, it’s vital for everyone who has not gotten vaccinated to consider getting vaccinated right away.”