Updated 5:58 p.m.
Health officials in Sacramento County are requiring that all residents wear masks in indoor public spaces — even those who are fully immunized against COVID-19.
Two weeks ago, both Sacramento County and Yolo County began to recommend that everyone wear a mask while inside. Officials said the move was a response to the quick spread of the delta variant of the virus, and the continued struggle to get residents vaccinated.
Starting Friday, county residents will be required to wear masks in all indoor public settings, including offices, retail stores, restaurants and bars, theaters, family entertainment centers, conference centers and government offices serving the public.
The move comes a day after state health officials announced all California residents should wear masks indoors, and following CDC recommendations for indoor masking in regions with “high or substantial” transmission rates. More than 90% of Californians live in counties meeting that threshold. Earlier this month, Los Angeles County announced it would require masks indoors, and Yolo County followed this week.
Officials say they plan to enforce the mandate the same way they did earlier this year, by giving businesses information about how to enforce masking and sending inspectors to those sites to make sure employees and patrons are complying.
As of Wednesday, Sacramento County’s daily case rate is 21.6 per 100,000 over the past week — which would be squarely in the purple, or widespread, tier under the state’s now-defunct color-coding system. That’s a four-fold increase over the past month.
“Given the rate of spread in our community, the choice to vaccinate or not to vaccinate is basically the choice to eventually get COVID-19,” said COVID-19 incident commander Jamie White.
About 10% of new infections are ‘breakthrough cases’ occurring among fully vaccinated individuals. White says that number is growing, either because more people have full immunity, or because vaccine efficacy is decreasing over time.
In nearby Placer County, Public Health Officer Dr. Rob Oldham said at a Tuesday board of supervisors meeting that cases have roughly tripled and hospitalizations have about doubled over the past month. There are now 88 COVID-19 patients in Placer County hospitals, including 18 in the ICU.
“We still seem to have plenty of critical care beds right now, but hospital staffing continues to be a challenge,” Oldham said.
Oldham said Placer will continue to align its mask policies with the state guidelines, which strongly recommend but don’t mandate that everyone mask in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.
County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye says the county is holding between 20 and 25 ‘pop-up’ vaccination clinics per week in neighborhoods where immunization rates are low. The county has more information about vaccinations on its website.
“Our hope is that coupled with increased vaccination rates, that this will be sufficient to get us to where we need to be,” she said.
Currently, 55% percent of county residents are fully or partially immunized according to the county, though that varies greatly by zip code.
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