mask mandate

Santa Clara County Residents, Business Owners React to Mask Mandate Decision

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A lot of California restaurants took a big hit in business during the omicron surge, so news about the state's mask mandate lift were well received.

However, the joy didn't last long for Luna Mexican Kitchen and staff in the South Bay after Santa Clara County announced they wouldn't be following the state's decision.

"I think its frustrating," said Campbell resident Aaron Derbacher. "I think it's pretty fair to say a lot of us are frustrated and were kind of ready for things to be 'normal'."

Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said it comes down to three metrics.

The first has already been met – since it’s one of the most vaccinated counties in the country. But the hospitalization rate must be considered by Cody as “safe and stable”. And the rolling seven-day average for new cases must drop below 550 cases a day.  

Business owners and residents of Santa Clara County have mixed reactions to the county not following the state's mask requirement lift. Some say they expected things to stay the same while others were hoping to go back to "normal." Robert Handa reports.

Right now, there are more than 1,700 cases each day. 

“We still have very high levels of community transmission,” she said. “Still higher than at any other point in the pandemic pre-omicron. And so the risk of being exposed to someone with COVID in our community is still high.”

Jo Lopez, the owner of Luna Mexican Kitchen said he felt the county wasn't going to change things just yet.

"We knew," Lopez said, "and that's okay because our county, we want to be safe, and I support that."

Cody said she respects the decisions made by other counties, but decided to hold out until sometime in March.

For now, restaurant patrons and others, including gym members, will have to wait.

"Can you picture a day when we won't have masks?," asked NBC Bay Area reporter to a local gym member.

"Yeah!," said Dennis Flick. "Yeah, when the 'pandemic' becomes 'endemic'."

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is currently reevaluating its metrics to focus more exclusively on omicron, and Dr. Cody said she expects adjustments to be made.

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