Santa Cruz County lifted its indoor mask mandate Wednesday as local health officials cited the county's declining rate of viral transmission.
County officials lifted the mandate, effective immediately, after Santa Cruz County moved into the "moderate" tier of community transmission, the second lowest level of viral spread as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sonoma, Marin, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Monterey counties are also in the moderate tier, according to the CDC.
Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel issued the mask mandate last month amid the region's surge in cases of the ultra-contagious delta variant.
The county's last five COVID-19 deaths have been due to the delta variant and were among unvaccinated residents.
Santa Cruz County officials advised residents to continue wearing face coverings indoors when possible as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Masks will still be required indoors for unvaccinated residents and in schools, medical facilities and senior care facilities.
The county also encouraged residents to get vaccinated if they have yet to do so, saying it remains the most effective way to prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Information about getting vaccinated in Santa Cruz County can be found at http://santacruzhealth.org/HSAHome/HSADivisions/PublicHealth/CommunicableDiseaseControl/CoronavirusHome/Vaccine.aspx.
As of Wednesday, 77.4 percent of the county's residents ages 12 and up have received at least one dose, according to CDC data.