Today’s the day that California is ending its mask and vaccine requirements for healthcare workers, but Alameda and Contra Costa counties will continue requiring masks, while SF public health officials have not made an announcement.
Today is something of a landmark day in California in terms of COVID-19 public safety precautions. These things aren’t getting a ton of attention like they used to, but Monday, April 3 is officially the day the mask requirement is ending for California healthcare facilities and other settings where masks were still mandatory.
As KTVU explains, “Effective April 3, those going in and out of hospitals, medical offices, long-term care, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, emergency evacuation centers and places designated for cooling and warming stations will no longer be mandated to mask up.” That station adds that “Also starting April 3, California will no longer require vaccination for health care workers. This includes those in adult care, direct care, correctional facilities and detention centers.”
California is easing the state's mask mandates. Starting April 3, masks will no longer be required at hospitals, medical offices and other places deemed indoor high-risk. https://t.co/0IMUcM8qoM— KTVU (@KTVU) March 4, 2023
But that doesn’t mean this will take effect statewide, as counties are allowed to maintain their own rules. Though a separate KTVU report points out that Santa Clara County is ending their mask requirement for healthcare settings, homeless shelters, jails, and long-term care facilities. Though there is a notable exception there, as the county has issued an updated health order saying that masks will be required again in health care settings next winter — Nov. 1 to March 31 — in order "to protect people from disease and prevent the overcrowding of hospitals."
As California lifts its COVID-19 masking requirements for healthcare settings on April 3, two of the Bay Area’s biggest counties are taking a cautious approach to ensure the continued protection of their vulnerable populations.https://t.co/vdNGxhTZZb— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) March 27, 2023
And not all counties are relaxing their masks requirements in such settings. The Chronicle reported last week that Alameda and Contra Costa counties are keeping the mask requirements in some settings. In Alameda County, the Chronicle reports they are still “requiring the continued use of masks by staff in skilled nursing facilities,” and in Contra Costa County, masks will still be required in skilled nursing facilities, and that order will also apply to “paramedics, emergency medical technicians, contractors and vendors entering the county’s 30 facilities.” Visitors at those facilities can apparently go unmasked.
Oddly, there's been no announcement as of press time for San Francisco County. Mayor Breed’s Twitter today has been mostly “Roadmap to Downtown San Francisco’s Future” tweets, and the SF DPH Twitter account has only been tweeting about homeless outreach this morning. As seen above the current SF masking requirements — updated March 1 — say that “People who work in healthcare settings and jails are still required to wear a mask when around patients or people living in jails,” and that “You must also wear a mask wherever a business, venue operator, host, or transportation organization requires it.” So presumably, that remains in effect until further notice.
The one requirement that remains in effect statewide is the five-day isolation rule if you test positive for COVID-19. As the Chronicle explains, people can “can exit isolation after five days if they are feeling well, symptoms are improving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.” But as a reminder, that paper adds that “Isolation begins with the start of symptoms, or the day of the first positive test with no symptoms. That day is considered day 0, with the first day of isolation being the day after.”
So how “over” or “not over” is the COVID-19 pandemic? Case counts are no longer reliable with so much home testing. But in the U..S. in general, the last week for which we have data showed 1,596 U.S. deaths in a week, so about 230 deaths a day. In California, state data is showing 17 deaths per day, and here in San Francisco, the whole month of March saw just ten COVID-19 deaths.
Related: Dr. Wachter Is Going Back Inside Restaurants, Which Maybe Means the Pandemic Is Finally Over? [SFist]
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