To limit the impact of increasing COVID-19 cases on hospitalizations, today Alameda County health officials announced that masks will be required in most indoor public settings beginning 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 3, 2022. This Order does not apply to the City of Berkeley, which is an independent Local Health Jurisdiction. The Alameda County Health Officer continues to monitor COVID cases and hospitalizations to determine when this Order can be lifted safely.

Alameda County will not require masking in K-12 school settings through the end of the 2021-22 school year, but masking is still strongly recommended. Masks will be required in all other children and youth settings, including childcare, summer school, and youth programs, as practicable.

Daily reported COVID-19 cases have exceeded the peak of last summer’s Delta wave and are now approaching levels seen during the winter 2020-21 wave, at comparable lab-reported testing levels. Reported cases are an underestimate of the total due to home testing and unidentified infections.

Hospitalizations are also rising after remaining stable during the early weeks of this wave. Daily new admissions of patients with COVID-19 rapidly increased in recent days and now exceed last summer’s peak. We expect to reach CDC’s “High” COVID-19 Community Level soon, given current trends.

In addition, when COVID-19 cases started to rise again in April, we did not observe in our data the disproportionate impacts on communities of color. That is no longer true and Hispanic/Latino residents now have the highest case rate in Alameda County among the largest race/ethnicity groups.

While COVID-19 vaccination, boosters, prior infection and available medications provide protection against severe illness, the virus that causes COVID is circulating at very high levels in Alameda County. Even with strong protections, such high numbers of infections put more people at risk and in the hospital.

Masking provides an added layer of protection against infection from a virus that spreads through the air. Wearing a high-quality mask protects both the wearer and those around them, and having more people masked will help slow the spread of COVID-19. Children under age 2 should not mask.

Throughout the pandemic, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino/a/x, and Pacific Islander residents have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. These same communities have historically experienced health disparities and the pandemic revealed and exacerbated those issues. Alameda County is committed to mitigating COVID-19 disparities where possible.

In addition to masking, residents are reminded to continue taking other steps to limit spreading COVID-19: stay home if sick or positive; test if symptomatic or exposed; and keep gatherings small and outdoors or increase ventilation if gathering indoors.

If you are not vaccinated or boosted, we strongly urge you to drop into a clinic if you are eligible and talk to
your health care provider about treatment if you test positive for COVID and have mild or moderate
symptoms. Visit the COVID-19 website for informational resources.

Read the full press release.