Alameda County lifts indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases decline

Photo of a face mask
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Alameda County Health Officer Nicholas Moss lifted the county’s indoor mask mandate in a health officer order effective Saturday, citing declining COVID-19 cases.

According to the order, COVID-19 cases in the county peaked June 6 at 56 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, and declined to a case rate of 40.5 June 16. Daily hospital admissions of people with COVID-19 have also stabilized, the order added.

“Masks work and are still an important tool to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, especially when rates are high,” Moss said in a press release from the Office of Emergency Services. “We strongly encourage everyone to continue masking to protect themselves and others from COVID.”

However, according to the press release, businesses and venue operators can still require masks for patrons and workers. Furthermore, the city of Berkeley never reinstated a mask mandate with the rest of the county and remains unaffected by the new order.

Effective Wednesday, the county is also aligning with California’s quarantine guidance and definition of close contact, according to the press release.

The state defines close contact as sharing indoor airspace with an infectious person for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. According to the press release, asymptomatic people with a close contact exposure should test within three to five days of the exposure and wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must follow the state isolation requirements, which include isolating for at least five days regardless of vaccination status. Isolation can end after five days after a negative antigen test and no sign of symptoms.

“Aligning with the State’s quarantine guidance will not present a public health risk as most Alameda County residents are exempt from current County quarantine requirements due to vaccination status,” the press release reads. “Alignment with the State will provide clarity for workplaces.”

Riley Cooke is a deputy news editor. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @rrileycooke.