For Immediate ReleaseDecember 29, 2021
Universal indoor masking returns to all indoor public spaces
San Rafael, CA – With COVID-19 case rates rising rapidly, Marin County Public Health is aligning with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and requiring the wearing of face coverings in all indoor public places to stem the virus’ spread.
Effective at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, December 30, previous local face covering exemptions carved out for indoor spaces with consistent cohorts of fully vaccinated people will no longer apply. Now, all people in Marin County, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask in all indoor public settings, in accordance with the state-wide mandate. This includes gyms, fitness centers, office settings, employee commuter vehicles, religious gatherings, college classes, and similar settings.
The first case of Omicron variant in Marin was identified on December 17. Since then, average daily COVID-19 case counts have tripled, fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant. On December 28, 338 new cases were reported, exceeding the prior highest daily case count by more than 100 cases.
“When we see numbers like this, it’s time to respond,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “The mask exemption for certain settings was a pre-Omicron policy. This variant behaves differently, and the risk of infection in a room full of vaccinated people who are unmasked is much higher now.”
Despite rising case counts, hospitalization rates for COVID-19 infections have remained stable across Marin. That is attributed to Marin County’s very high vaccination rate; 92.1% of Marin's population aged 5 and over has completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. Still, health authorities express concern that hospitalization rates could increase significantly in the coming days if case counts continue to rise at current rates.
CDPH’s statewide indoor mask mandate went into effect December 15. At that time, Marin and other local counties were given an option to adopt a pre-existing mask order in lieu of the state’s order. Marin and five other jurisdictions – the counties of Sonoma, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Alameda, and the city of Berkeley – adopted local orders that allowed some exemptions not found in the state’s policy. The recension of the local order means Marin now falls under CDPH’s mask order, which remains in effect through at least January 15, 2022. On December 28, Contra Costa County made a similar announcement, issuing a new health order that removed limited exemptions to indoor mask use.
COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses, continue to offer the most effective protection against hospitalization and death from all variants of COVID-19 circulating in the Bay Area. Safe, free, and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone age 5 and up. Book an appointment or find a nearby clinic on GetVaccinatedMarin.org.
More information face coverings, local policies, and resources for businesses, including printable signs, can be found at Coronavirus.MarinHHS.org/masks.
Dr. Matthew WillisPublic Health OfficerHealth and Human Services
3240 Kerner Blvd.San Rafael, CA 94901(415) 473-4163Email: Dr. Matthew WillisMarin HHS website