Bay Area health officers again urge indoor masking, COVID-19 rates highest in California

SAN FRANCISCO – As COVID-19 case rates rise, health officers in the Bay Area on Friday again urged people to take precautions, including the wearing of masks indoors.

In a statement signed by health officers in all nine Bay Area counties, along with Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties and the City of Berkeley, urged people to mask up indoors, keep tests handy and ensure they are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations.

“The grim milestone of 1 million deaths from COVID in the United States underscores the need for continued vigilance against the virus,” health officials said.

As of Friday, officials said the Bay Area has the highest infection rate in California, with increases in reported cases, levels of virus in wastewater and hospitalizations. With home tests widely available, actual case rates are higher.

The latest surge being driven by highly contagious Omicron subvariants.

“With COVID-19 cases going up in San Francisco, people are at an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19 right now and we are urging people to take personal protections against the virus,” said San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip. “People who are at high risk of severe illness, or who are in close contact with someone at high risk should be especially vigilant as we get through this current swell in cases.”

In San Francisco, officials with the city’s Department of Public Health said hospitalizations are increasing but remained relatively low compared to previous surges. The city’s vaccination rate is at 84%.

Meanwhile in Alameda County, health officials there said daily reported cases have reached levels seen during the Delta variant wave last year, but cases remained far below the Omicron surge over the winter and hospitalizations have shown “modest increases” so far.

“If you’ve chosen not to wear a mask indoors recently, now is a good time to start masking again,” said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss.

On the Peninsula in San Mateo County, health officer Dr. Scott Morrow said, ” we stress that this is a time for everyone to take advantage of all the protective measures they can.”

Morrow stressed the county was not considering a local health order to again require indoor masking.

Along with the above recommendations, health officials urged people to stay home when sick, to get tested right away and to hold outdoor gatherings in well ventilated spaces or outdoors.

For people who are likely to get very sick from COVID-19, medications are available and to talk with their doctor if they test positive.

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