The Alameda County Public Health Department announced on Thursday that they would be reinstating the mask mandate for most indoor public places in the County.
According to a statement from the County Public Health Department, the move to reinstate masking comes as the number of new COVID-19 cases in Alameda County has shot drastically up in the past several weeks, surpassing last summers Delta variant wave and already encroaching on the number of cases from the 2021-2022 winter surge. The County is averaging between 800-900 new cases a day with 102 people currently being hospitalized for contracting the virus. Both figures are up by 20% from only a few weeks ago.
While the County has become the first to reinstate mandatory indoor masking since the end of the winter surge earlier this year, there will be exceptions in the County. K-12 schools will not be covered by the mandate with it already being the end of the school year, and with the city of Berkeley also not falling under the mandate due to them having their own public health department. However, all other areas, including Oakland, fall under the new mandate.
“Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment,” said Alameda County public health officer Nicholas Moss in the Thursday press 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.
“We held off doing this as long as we felt it was reasonable, but with the numbers continuing to go up and when we started to see concerning signals, we felt we needed to act.”
Beginning 12:01 a.m. tomorrow (Friday), June 3rd, Alameda County will require masking in most indoor public settings.
Press Release: https://t.co/4iXVpOjz1p
— Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (@Dare2BWell) June 2, 2022
Alameda County Health Care Services Agency Director Colleen Chawla also noted that “We thank Alameda County residents, employers, and businesses for continuing to rise to the challenge in response to this pandemic. Unfortunately, COVID has not gone away and once again, we must take measures to protect ourselves, friends and community members, and employees and patrons from this very infectious virus.”
Negative reaction to the return of the indoor mask mandate
However, many citizens and business owners in Alameda County seriously questioned the return of the mask mandate on Thursday, with many reacting negatively to the Department’s decision.
“No. No no no no no,” said Lucinda Jackson, a local East Bay business owner who said her businesses only returned to the black for the first time since early 2020 just last month, to the Globe on Thursday. “They said it wouldn’t happen again. They said on TV masks wouldn’t be back. Everyone was saying they wouldn’t be back. Businesses here don’t want them because they cut into business. But look what happened. They brought them back.”
“This is the same government that right after all the BLM protests, said to go out and support black owned businesses. And now, by putting the mandates back, they are hurting us. This isn’t a one-dimensional issue. Putting the mandates back have consequences way beyond health, which, we should note, isn’t hospitalizing nearly as many people now. This makes me ashamed of my County.”
Meanwhile, other public health departments across the state have either been noting a higher number of cases or also toying with returning a county-wide mask mandate.
“If we continue on the current trajectory, we could find that cases and hospitalizations end up exerting stress on our healthcare system within just a few weeks,” explained Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer last week.
Outside of California, mask mandate returns, such as the one implemented by Philadelphia, were met with such a negative reaction from the public that they got rid of them only a few days later.
As of Thursday, there is no current end date to the renewed Alameda County masking mandate.
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