California to Ease Masking Guidelines Friday

Instead of a broad recommendation to mask up indoors, in public settings and businesses, it will recommend universal mask-wearing only when a county’s COVID-19 transmission level is high.

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California is easing its masking guidelines Friday, recommending universal mask-wearing only when a county’s COVID-19 transmission level is high.

Most Bay Area counties are low, expect for Sonoma and Marin, where the level is at a medium.

The state is also ending mandatory masking in jails and prisons, homeless shelters, and emergency and cooling centers in low transmission areas.

“I think when the going gets good we take a break and if anything happens in the future, who knows if anything will happen and when it happens, but we need to maintain that flexibility of mind set to bring the masks out when we need to,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of UCSF.

Those in hospital settings will have to continue masking. Chin-Hong said it's for vulnerable patients and the health of staff who will likely be the last to ditch masks.

“In that way you can preserve the health care force for what might be a winter surge and hopefully keep morale going so that people don’t have to cover each other,” he said. 

Along Berkeley streets, where transmission is low, residents had mixed feelings. 

Some, like Kyle Shay, said they’ll keep their masks on even after Friday. 

“Yeah I think so I think I’d just feel safer with it you know aside from COVID it’s still kind of just nice to have also,” he said.

Other, like Jamila Harakat, welcomed the news, “I feel OK actually. I think the pandemic is going away."

Dr. Chin Hong said most experts are on the same page that there will be increases in COVID cases over the winter months, but whether that translates into people going into the hospitals and using beds, remains to be seen.

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