With more people contracting Covid-19 locally and increased reports of the Delta variant, Monterey, Napa, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties in a joint statement Monday recommend that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places.
This includes places such as grocery or retail stores, theaters and family entertainment centers, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The counties in the statement also urged businesses to adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas of their businesses to provide better protection to their employees and customers.
This will also, county health officers say, make it easier for businesses to be sure unvaccinated people are masked. Workplaces must comply with Cal/OSHA requirements.
In Santa Cruz County, there were at least 126 active cases of Covid-19 as of Monday. The county had previously seen the number of people infected with the disease remain under 100 for several weeks.
Health officers say that the Delta variants are spreading quickly in this region and that Covid-19 hospitalizations among the unvaccinated are increasing.
In June, the Delta variants comprised 43% of all specimens sequenced in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that Delta variants are now responsible for 58% of new infections across the country.
Fully vaccinated people are more protected from infections and serious illness due to Covid-19, including the variants. But vaccinations have leveled off in Santa Cruz County since the initial encouraging numbers. Roughly 60% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, and 67% is partially vaccinated.
“Vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, continues to be our best defense against severe Covid-19 infection and the harm it can do to our region,” the statement read.
In the coming weeks, the health officers will revisit the recommendation for everyone to mask indoors in public settings.
Data can be monitored here: covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view.
Visit myturn.ca.gov or call 2-1-1 to find a vaccination site near you.