For Immediate ReleaseSeptember 27, 2023
Marin County, CA —Marin County has announced a measure to protect residents and healthcare workers during the winter virus season. In alignment with other Bay Area counties, effective November 1, 2023, through March 31, 2024, Marin County Public Health will require masks be worn in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities to limit the spread of seasonal respiratory viruses including RSV, influenza, and COVID-19.
The requirement is intended to protect patients, staff, and visitors when they are in these higher-risk healthcare settings. It will apply to all individuals within the facility while they are in patient care areas. Children under age 6 and those with a valid medical reason are exempt.
"Hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are unique,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer, “because they bring together two critical groups—front line healthcare workers and people who are more fragile medically—in a setting where viruses are more likely to spread.”
Historical case rates and virus levels in Marin wastewater show a clear seasonal spike in RSV and influenza, rising in November or December followed by a decline into spring. Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 cases have spiked in late fall. The simultaneous circulation of three respiratory viruses contributes to a seasonal rise in sick days from work and school, and increased hospitalizations and deaths.
Data from Marin County Public Health underscores the vulnerability of older residents, with 90 percent of hospitalizations in 2023 occurring among residents age 60 or older.
Some medical systems, including Kaiser Santa Rosa and UCSF, have already instituted mask mandates with their facilities. Health Departments across the Bay Area are issuing similar mask requirements for certain healthcare settings for November through March. Under the Marin County order, masks will be recommended, but not required in medical clinics and other outpatient healthcare settings.
Dr. Matthew WillisPublic Health OfficerHealth and Human Services
3240 Kerner Blvd.San Rafael, CA 94901(415) 473-4163Email: Dr. Matthew WillisMarin HHS website