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Bay Area Health Officers Support Masking Until June 15

Bay Area health officers released a joint statement Wednesday in support of the state’s recent announcement saying California will wait to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated masking guidance until June 15.

Last Thursday, the CDC updated its guidance to say that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most places, indoors and outdoors. But the California Department of Public Health put the brakes on vaccinated Californians eager to go mask-free when it responded earlier this week by saying the state wouldn’t immediately align with the updated guidance and wait instead until its reopening date of June 15.

Health officers from all nine counties and the city of Berkeley, plus Monterey and San Benito counties, were included in Wednesday’s joint statement.

In the statement, health officers touted great progress in vaccination efforts across the state but in the same breath cautioned that many people remain unvaccinated. Almost half of Californians 16 years and older are fully vaccinated, and nearly 65 percent have gotten at least one dose, the statement says, “However, large numbers of residents are still unvaccinated, not yet fully vaccinated, or not eligible to be vaccinated.”

Officials stressed the importance of getting more people vaccinated within the next four weeks to help businesses and others better prepare for the incoming relaxed mask guidance.

“Thanks to so many in our community who have gotten vaccinated, we have come a long way and can finally start to see a return to normalcy in our area,” said Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County health officer. “This next month is our chance to further increase vaccination rates. Wear your mask now, so we can get to June 15 together.”

Under current state rules, fully vaccinated individuals don’t have to wear masks outdoors except when in crowded environments, like concerts or sporting events. Unvaccinated people only have to wear masks outdoors when they can’t maintain social distance.

And even after June 15, masks will still be required in some public spaces, including hospitals, public transit and congregate housing facilities like nursing homes, homeless shelters and prisons. The state will also continue to require masks in public schools, in line with CDC guidelines.

—Julie Chang

Copyright 2021 KQED