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With Covid cases on the rise, California counties begin to bring back mask mandates

Citing the rise in hospitalizations due to Covid-19, Alameda County health officials announced they were reinstating the county’s indoor mask mandate. Other counties may follow suit.

(CN) — Citing the rise of hospitalizations due to Covid-19, health officials in Alameda County announced that wearing masks and face coverings will now be required in most indoor spaces.

"Rising COVID cases in Alameda County are now leading to more people being hospitalized and today’s action reflects the seriousness of the moment,” said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss in a written statement. “We cannot ignore the data, and we can’t predict when this wave may end. Putting our masks back on gives us the best opportunity to limit the impact of a prolonged wave on our communities.”

Masks will not be required to be worn by students in public schools, but they are "strongly recommended." Masks will be required in childcare and summer school programs.

Other counties in California may soon follow Alameda's lead. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Thursday that if the county's Covid case rate continues on its current trajectory, it will likely move into the Center for Disease Control's "high community level" designation, the worst of its three tiers. By the rules set forward by LA County officials, that will trigger the reinstatement of its indoor mask mandate.

A number of other counties, including Sacramento, Santa Clara, Marin and Sonoma already qualify for that "high" designation. Sacramento City Unified School District announced on Thursday that it was reinstating the student mask mandate on Monday. Other school systems, including Berkeley's public K-12 schools and UCLA, have already done the same.

The average daily Covid case rate is already higher in California than it was last summer, when during the Delta variant surge. That case rate only counts people who test positive at a testing site, so it may be a rather drastic undercount. The rate at which people are being hospitalized for Covid is still lower than last summer, as is the Covid death rate.

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