Use N95, KN95 or even surgical masks under cloth to protect yourself and others. Stay up to date on vaccinations and test quickly to take advantage of medications now available.
Twelve Bay Area health officers are stressing the importance of taking safety precautions, including continued masking indoors, as the region experiences a new swell of COVID cases and hospitalizations.
These health officers reiterate their continued, strong support for people to mask up indoors, keep tests handy, and ensure they are up to date on vaccinations by getting boosters when eligible.
These familiar tools are more critical given the highly contagious Omicron subvariants fueling a wave that gives the Bay Area the highest known infection rates in California. Bay Area counties are seeing increases in reported cases, levels of virus in wastewater, and hospitalizations. Actual case rates are higher than those reported because of widespread use of home tests.
“An N95, KN95, or even surgical masks underneath a cloth mask protect you from this airborne virus that can spread rapidly indoors,” said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. “We’ve learned over the pandemic to use tools to lower our risk. Our tools are even more important now with risk so high.”
Protect yourself from infection, act quickly when you have symptoms
The grim milestone of 1 million deaths from COVID in the United States underscores the need for continued vigilance against the virus.
Although not required, masking is strongly recommended by the California Department of Public Health for most public indoor settings, and health officials say wearing higher-quality masks (N95/KN95 or snug-fitting surgical masks) indoors is a wise choice that will help people protect their health. Vaccines remain the best protection against severe disease and death from COVID.
Health officials say people should also stay home if they feel sick and get tested right away. Officials also encourage getting tested after potential exposure and limiting large gatherings to well-ventilated spaces or outdoors. For people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 infection, medications are available that can reduce their chances of severe illness and death. Talk with your healthcare provider right away if you test positive.
The above statement has been endorsed by health officers from 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.