To limit the impact of increasing COVID-19 cases on hospitalizations, the Alameda County health officials announced that masks will be required in most indoor public settings beginning Friday, June 3, 2022. This order applies to most cities within Alameda County, including the City of Oakland.
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.
My Work to Provide COVID-19 Data-Driven Policy and Resources
I have been working to help protect the public health from the dangers of COVID, including ensuring that the City of Oakland provides quality masks-- N95, KN95, KF94, or the equivalent – at city facilities to protect people from transmission and prevent a COVID-19 surge, and to provide protection. Additionally, on Friday, May 13, 2022, Councilmember Dan Kalb and I wrote a letter to the Bay Area County Health Officers and CDPH Director urging them to reinstate masking requirements in indoor crowded public areas, such as on public transportation.
According to a February 2022 report on the CDC website, “Consistent use of a face mask or respirator (N95/ KN95) in indoor public settings was associated with lower odds of a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result. Use of respirators (N95/KN95) with higher filtration capacity was associated with the most protection, compared with no mask use.”
Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have continued to provide and develop data-driven policy and resources. As early as March 2020 at the first virtual council meeting due to the shelter-in-place, I passed a resolution requesting that the City Administrator acquire shelter-in-place buildings and supplies -- including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our unhoused community to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, before the governor established the mask mandate, I ,along with our essential workers, organized to demand that frontline workers be provided PPE, such as masks
When the vaccine became available, I led the efforts to organize and call for the State of California to open the first FEMA-supported large scale COVID vaccination project. The large COVID vaccination site was headquartered at the Oakland Coliseum. The project included additional community-based outreach mobile vaccination sites to reach hard-hit communities.