Santa Clara County, the only Bay Area county that still has an indoor mask mandate, could drop its masking rule next week.
The county set several benchmarks for lifting the mask mandate and could meet the last one soon.
On Thursday, the county met for the first the metric of 550 or fewer cases per day for a full week. The county already hit the target of low and stable hospitalization numbers and an 80% or higher vaccination rate.
Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said she expects the county to stay under 550 cases for more than seven days, which would allow officials to lift the mask mandate on March 2.
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"Our COVID-19 hospitalizations are low and stable, and today we have met the new case metric as well. These data are very encouraging, and I anticipate that our steady downward trend in cases will continue. If this continues, we will be able to safely transition from a requirement for indoor masking to a strong recommendation on March 2." Cody said in a statement. "Sticking to our metrics has helped to ensure that everyone in our community is protected – the elderly, young children, essential workers, and those who are immunocompromised – as our community transmission settles down."
For many retailers, the news the mask restrictions may be lifted soon is a cause for celebration. Some owners in the only Bay Area county still requiring masks said the mandate has hurt their businesses.
"I think it's good," said Charlie Ortega with FixLaptop.com. "I mean, hopefully it will bring the traffic back. We really need the traffic."
Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties were the last in the state to keep an indoor masking requirement. Los Angeles County's mandate will drop on Friday.
Regardless of what counties do, the state will continue requiring masking in K-12 schools, child care facilities, public transit, health care settings, shelters and jails.
Beyond that, UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said people should keep a mask handy in case they find themselves in a risky situation.
"I think the risk is definitively still there," he said. "We're not quite where we were even Thanksgiving time and definitely not where we were at the time of first California reopening on June 15, 2021, which means that even though I'm a boosted person, I’m still going to be very careful in a crowded indoor setting and wear my mask."