By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Alameda County began requiring masks in most indoor public settings once again Friday after seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Health officials announced Thursday that daily reported cases “have exceeded the peak of last summer’s Delta wave and are now approaching levels seen during the winter 2020-21 wave.” Hospitalizations have also risen in recent days and “now exceed last summer’s peak,” officials said in a news release.
“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 statement. “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.”
The Bay Area county currently has a 7-day average of 832 cases, which represents a 20% increase over the last 14 days, according to the Los Angeles Times’ data tracker. Alameda is the first county in the state to reinstate a mask mandate following the latest winter surge.
The county’s indoor mask mandate will not apply to the City of Berkeley, which has its own health jurisdiction. The county will also not require masking in K-12 schools through the end of this school year.
COVID-19 cases in California have risen in recent weeks, reaching a daily average of 13,895 cases as of Friday, according to the state’s data tracker. As of Thursday, 2,415 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state, and testing positivity in the state has also reached 8.3%.
California lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals in mid-February and allowed unvaccinated individuals to no longer wear a mask in indoor settings starting March 1. The state in February also unveiled its long-term strategy to address COVID-19 – the “SMARTER Plan” – that includes “on and off ramps” for the state to reinstate restrictions.
Los Angeles County could be poised to reinstate an indoor mask mandate in June as coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. The county’s health department is projecting that the region will reach the Center for Disease and Prevention’s “high” level of community transmission by the end of the month.