Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Napa County today joins seven other Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley in issuing a health order mandating indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status. The order by Dr. Karen Relucio, the county’s Health Officer, requires all individuals to wear face coverings when indoors in workplaces and public settings, with limited exemptions, and recommends that businesses make face coverings available to individuals entering their businesses. This order will take effect Friday, August 6, 2021 at 12:01am.
This Order is made in light of the recent significant increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions in Napa County hospitals, due primarily to the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Delta variant makes up 85% of the variants circulating in California and emerging evidence indicates that the Delta variant is more transmissible than prior variants of the virus, may cause more severe illness, and that even fully vaccinated individuals can spread the virus to others.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) now both recommend that all persons—regardless of vaccination status—wear face coverings indoors when with people outside of their household. Vaccination remains the best and most effective tool in preventing COVID-19 and its harms; evidence shows that even against the Delta variant, fully vaccinated individuals have substantial protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
In considering options to stem the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, a continued increase in the proportion of the population vaccinated is the best protection available. However, universal indoor use of face coverings is the least disruptive and most immediately impactful additional measure to take to control the spread of the virus, and particularly the more highly contagious Delta variant.
This Order is part of a strategy to support the continued operations of businesses, activities, and schools. As of this date, the Health Officer strongly believes that schools can and should reopen in full for in-person classes for all grades at the beginning of the 2021/2022 school year. The Health Officer will continue to assess the public health situation as it evolves and may modify this Order or issue additional orders related to COVID-19 as changing circumstances dictate.
“The decision to go forward with a masking mandate, when Napa County has mostly followed state guidance, is based on the need to protect our healthcare system. Although Napa County has high vaccination rates, with 75% of eligible residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there is still a concerning rise in hospitalizations that is threatening hospital capacity.” said Dr. Karen Relucio, Public Health Officer for Napa County. “Masking is an essential tool that limits the transmission of the Delta variant as we continue to all get vaccinated.”