Bay Area health workers recommend masking indoors; the region has the highest infection rate in California

On Friday, twelve Bay Area health workers recommended that people wear masks indoors amid a new surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations.

The Bay Area now has the highest COVID infection rates in California, fueled by omicron subvariants, according to a joint press release.

Although not mandatory, masking is strongly recommended by the California Department of Public Health for most public indoor environments.

San Francisco reports more than 60 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, the largest increase in the Bay Area. Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at UCSF, said it was a manageable workload for hospitals.

“At this point, there’s so much immunity that we’re seeing cases, but they’re mostly mild, and basically our hospitalizations are still low,” Gandhi said.

Bay Area health officials said wearing higher quality masks, such as N95, KN95 or tight-fitting surgical masks, indoors is a smart move that will help people protect their health. .

“If you have recently chosen not to wear a mask in indoor public places, now is a good time to start over,” Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer Dr. George Han said in a statement. “Highly contagious subvariants are spreading here. If you add layers of protection like a high-quality mask, it reduces the risk to you and the chance of you infecting others.”

By recommending, rather than requiring masks, health officials are leaving it up to everyone to determine their own risk. Some already are, when it comes to dining out.

At Piperade, a French Basque restaurant on Battery Street in San Francisco, Gerald Hirigoyen, the owner, said more and more people are opting to dine out in recent weeks, and believes the rise in COVID- 19 could have an impact on their choice.

Fortunately, its fully vaccinated staff remained healthy throughout this recent outbreak. Masks are optional, depending on employee preference.

“So far he [COVID-19 cases surging] doesn’t translate into the business yet,” Hirigoyen said. “It’s day-to-day, we’re going to have to see what happens.”

Health officials have also said people should get vaccinated. In San Francisco, for example, 84% of eligible residents are vaccinated.

The notice was sent by the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma as well as the city of Berkeley.

The dark milestone of 1 million deaths from COVID in the United States underscores the need for continued vigilance against the virus.

The health workers’ joint statement also encouraged the public to ask their doctors about antiviral drugs, like Paxlovid, for people at higher risk of serious illness. This is an option for some that may help shorten the course of their symptoms if they test positive.

AFTER: Message from Dr Sara Cody: Keep your mask handy, wear it indoors in crowded spaces as the virus surges again

Rudi Miller, who graduated from Berkeley Law School on Friday, was grateful that a recent spike in COVID-19 infections among his classmates last month had largely dissipated in time for graduation. .

“I think school officials handled it very well, and the numbers dropped dramatically by the time graduation came around,” Miller said.

She plans to move to San Francisco soon and also plans to wear a mask most of the time.

“I feel comfortable continuing to mask,” Miller said, “because I think it’s the best way to fight COVID.”

KTVU’s Emma Goss contributed to this report.

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