Alameda County reinstates mask order as coronavirus cases soar

Hanh Duong, a pharmacist at Peninsula Pharmacy in San Pedro, wears a double mask when dealing with customers.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Alameda County has reinstated an indoor masking rule, the first time a California county has issued a mask mandate since the winter Omicron surge faded.

Alameda County issued a new mask mandate in most indoor public settings, effective Friday, as coronavirus cases climb.

The county, home to Oakland, is the San Francisco Bay Area’s second-most populous. Alameda County’s move represents the first time a California county has issued a mask mandate since the winter Omicron surge faded.

The order does not apply to K-12 school settings through the end of the school year, nor does it apply to Berkeley, which is in Alameda County but has its own public health department.

“Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized, and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment,” Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County’s health officer, 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 reinstatement comes as coronavirus cases in other parts of California also continue to climb and cause disruptions; in its most recent update, Santa Cruz County’s Health Services Agency said local case rates declined slightly this week, but the positivity rate, at 7%, matched the state’s.

“If we continue on the current trajectory, we could find that cases and hospitalizations end up exerting stress on our health care system within just a few weeks,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a recent briefing.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.