City of Berkeley calls for indoor masking as COVID-19 cases rise again
City of Berkeley calls for indoor masking as COVID-19 cases rise again

City of Berkeley calls for indoor masking as COVID-19 cases rise again

Devin McDonald, co-owner of Mr. Mopps’ children’s books and toys have held a requirement for customers to wear masks in the store since the city mandate was lifted in February. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

COVID-19 cases rise again in Berkeley, driven by infectious Omicron variants. As the city faces its second-largest wave of pandemics, the city’s health department recommends that residents once again wear masks in indoor public places.

Case rate per. 100,000 inhabitants (56.2) and the average number of positive COVID-19 cases recorded over the last seven days (62 per day) is the highest they have been during the entire pandemic except during the omicron rise. Case rates have risen in the Bay Area as a whole, which has higher case rates than anywhere else in California.

And Berkeley’s reported totals are probably a minority, as many people also use home test kits that are not recorded in the official numbers. The levels of virus in Alameda County’s wastewater, a powerful prediction toolalso increases.

Hospital admissions in Berkeley and Alameda County remain low. On Wednesday, there were 64 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alameda County, 5 of them on intensive care. But Berkeley’s health worker, Dr. Lisa Hernandez, said she expected the number of admissions to increase, as they did during other increases.

“Honestly, we were hoping it would rise and fall after the spring break,” Hernandez said. “But we continue to see that cases are extremely high.”

Hernandez, along with 11 other Bay Area health officials, recommended Friday that residents begin taking further precautions against the virus, including wearing N95, KN95 or fabric masks over surgical masks, as well as testing before or after large gatherings, especially if you come in contact with humans. who are more vulnerable to the virus.

The wastewater data collected for Alameda County by the State of California show significantly elevated rates of COVID-19. Credit: CDPH

Berkeley’s health department stopped requiring residents to mask indoors. The city completed its mask mandate on 16 Februaryand when asked what conditions could lead to the mandate being reinstated, Hernandez replied that she hoped it would not get there.

She said individual companies can call it themselves and that her department supports companies that want to require masking.

Asked whether Berkeleyans should completely avoid gathering indoors, Hernandez said residents should make “an individual calculation” based on risk levels and the health risks associated with friends and family members, especially the elderly or medically vulnerable.

She also advised that although the city has high vaccination rates (93%) and boosters (80% have received at least one), residents who have not yet had jabs should do so to protect against the risk of serious illness.

BUSD inspector Brent Stephens also sent a message to the community that the district “experienced elevated case levels in many of our schools.”

Although masks remain optional in schools, Stephens urged students and staff to wear them indoors to curb the spread of COVID-19 and prevent unexpected absences for students during graduation events. Many students continued to wear masks indoors after the masking requirement was lifted.

“We have no plans to cancel graduation events. However, individual students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate themselves at home for at least five days,” Stephens wrote in the announcement. “This isolation period may prevent a student from attending in a graduation ceremony. “

Last year, BUSD graduation ceremonies were held outside, and students sat socially distanced from each other. Berkeley High split its graduation into several ceremonies over a weekend to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We have learned from the pandemic to use tools to lower our risk,” Hernandez said in a statement issued by Berkeley’s health department. “Our tools are even more important now with such high risk.”

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