In response to the spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and new CDC guidance calling for masking measures to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible and deadly Delta variant, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) July 28 updated its Guidance for Face Coverings, recommending mask use for indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
“”The Delta variant has caused a sharp increase in hospitalizations and case rates across the state. We are recommending masking in indoor public places to slow the spread while we continue efforts to get more Californians vaccinated,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the state public health officer.
Under the CDC’s new guidance, more than 90% of California’s population is currently in areas designated as substantial or high transmission, including all Bay Area counties. San Francisco and Alameda County are in the highest CDC category for community transmission. Santa Clara and San Mateo counties are in the next highest category, in maps released Wednesday.
According to the CDC, getting vaccinated helps protect from the virus and the circulating variants, including the Delta variant that is now seen in the majority of California’s new cases.
Earlier this week, California announced it is requiring all state and health care employees to provide proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing. California had also led with its K-12 school guidance, requiring universal masking and other prevention measures as schools fully open for the upcoming school year
The San Jose Unified School District told several news outlets Wednesday it will require teachers and staff to either be vaccinated or tested twice a week for the coronavirus, effective Aug. 1. District spokesperson Jennifer Maddox told The Mercury News, “I suspect that’s going to be the direction most districts go” as concerns grow about rising infection rates driven by the more contagious delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Everyone has the same goal overall of keeping students and staff as safe as possible,” Maddox told the Mercury News.
More than 90% of San Jose Unified’s 2,700 teachers and staff already have been vaccinated, school officials said.
San Jose Unified will also mandate that masks be worn inside and outside of school buildings, regardless of vaccination status — a step further than state public health guidelines, which only require masks indoors. While indoors, students will need to maintain three feet of distance between each other.
Also this week, the California State University System followed the state’s lead the next day, rolling out a requirement that staff and students who come to campus must be vaccinated by the end of September. Santa Clara County said it will have a similar policy for its employees.
State health officials said they are continuing to motivate businesses and local communities to encourage vaccination to prevent new outbreaks in areas of substantial and high transmission.
The CDC also updated its guidance to recommend all teachers, staff and students in K-12 schools wear masks, even if they are fully vaccinated. Children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place, including masking and vaccination, if they are eligible. There is consensus among all leading authorities—including the CDC, CDPH, and the American Academy of Pediatrics—that universal masking is the safest and surest approach to full in-person instruction.
As of July 28:
- California has 3,822,551 confirmed cases to date. Numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as reporting of test results can be delayed.
- There were 6,849 newly reported confirmed cases Tuesday.
- Cases are increasing statewide, largely among unvaccinated populations.
- For the week of July 14-20, the average case rate among unvaccinated Californians is 20.7 per 100,000 per day and the average case rate among vaccinated Californians is significantly lower at 3.5 per 100,000 per day.
- The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated with 600% higher case rates among the unvaccinated than for those who are vaccinated.
- The seven-day positivity rate is 5.9%.
- There have been 73,252,199 tests conducted in California. This represents an increase of 116,448 during the prior 24-hour reporting period.
- There have been 63,849 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
- Providers have reported administering a total of 43,663,282 vaccine doses statewide. The CDC reports that 49,539,695 doses have been delivered to entities within the state. Numbers do not represent true day-to-day change as reporting may be delayed. For more vaccination data, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Data Dashboard.