People in Alameda County could again choose not to wear a mask in most indoor settings starting on Saturday, county health officials announced in a news release Friday, three weeks after they reinstated the mask mandate amid a late-spring surge in COVID-19 cases.
The county originally reintroduced the indoor mask mandate on June 3 in light of daily reported COVID-19 cases exceeding the peak of last summer's delta wave. According to the news release, since Jan. 1 of this year, COVID-19 has killed 328 Alameda County residents and 13,135 Californians.
But as the month comes to an end, health officials said they have been monitoring COVID-19 trends since the reinstatement of the mandate and are seeing daily reported cases having peaked and continuing to decline.
The news release stated that case rates are also improving across each of the county's racial and ethnic groups, including Hispanic and Latino residents who were disproportionately affected during the pandemic.
"Conditions have stabilized following the sustained increases in case reports and hospitalizations we saw throughout May," Alameda County health officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said in a statement Friday. "While we expect continued impacts from COVID-19 in the coming weeks and masks remain strongly recommended, it is appropriate to step down from the health officer masking order at this time."
Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert, whose District 1 includes Dublin and Livermore, took to Twitter earlier in the day Friday to call for the mandate to end.
"After 3 weeks of reinstated mask mandates with no other Bay Area counties following, I think it's time to end the Alameda County Mask Mandate," Haubert tweeted.
In rescinding the mandate, Alameda County is aligning its masking regulations with that of the state of California.
The state continues to require indoor masking for everyone in health care settings; congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters; and long-term care facilities.
"The masking Order was put in place to increase mask wearing in indoor settings, bring an earlier and lower peak to the spring wave, reduce impacts of severe disease and increase protection for those at greatest risk of poor health outcomes, consistent with Alameda County's strategy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," the county news release states.
Businesses, venue operators and hosts can continue requiring patrons and workers to wear masks to lower COVID-19 risk in their settings.
"Masks work and are still an important tool to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, especially when rates are high," Moss said. "We strongly encourage everyone to continue masking to protect themselves and others from COVID."