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Omicron Surge Forces Some Bay Area Counties to Revise Indoor Mask Rules

COVID-19 cases of the Omicron variant continue to increase across the country and in the Bay Area, prompting local health officials to revisit indoor mask policies and guidelines.

In California, Omicron is being blamed for about 70% of current cases across the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom said recently that California is better positioned to handle the surge than it was a year ago, when serious cases strained hospitals and morgues to the breaking point, and is less affected so far than many other states.

Here’s a look at Bay Area counties announcing changes to mask rules. The counties previously scaled back rules prior to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Note Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have an “all indoor mask rule” in place.

Alameda County

Alameda County continues to require masks in most indoor settings and officials confirm they are seeing a rapid increase of COVID-19 cases.

“We are reviewing our local amendment to the face masking order and will provide our community with more information this week,” said Neetu Balram with the Alameda County Public Health Department.

Contra Costa County

Everyone in the Contra Costa County starting Wednesday will have to wear a mask at all indoor businesses, regardless of vaccination status.

For the past several weeks, vaccinated people at many of the county’s gyms, churches and officers were allowed to leave their masks off, but the county said the new variant has made that too risky.

"The omicron variant is very contagious, and we now know that anyone, regardless of vaccination status, can spread this variant to other people," said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, Contra Costa County's deputy health officer. "We anticipate the case rate and hospitalization numbers to increase over the coming weeks. To reduce spread, cases and hospitalizations, we all need to wear masks anytime we are in an indoor public setting."

Marin County

Marin County also plans to revise its exceptions for indoor masks.

The county is expected to make a formal announcement as soon as Wednesday.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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