Several Bay Area counties have issued new masking mandates for health care workers as officials confront seasonal upticks in the rates of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as influenza.
Health officials in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Sonoma issued orders this week requiring health care personnel to wear masks in hospitals, skilled-nursing facilities, surgery centers and other facilities where patients receive care indoors. In Santa Clara County, a health order issued in March requiring seasonal masking in patient areas of health care facilities remains in effect.
The orders go into effect Nov. 1.
“Each year we see that higher rates of influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses that can cause severe respiratory infections occur annually between late fall and spring,” said Dr. Karen Smith, Sonoma County’s health officer, in a press release. “Patients and residents in our health care and congregate facilities, especially young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic health conditions, are at greater risk for respiratory virus-related hospitalizations and death. Workers in direct care, health care, and congregate facilities are at risk for respiratory illness and can transmit the viruses to their clients, patients, and coworkers.”
California has seen a steady rise in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 over the past month. According to data tracked by the state, about 1,260 patients were reported hospitalized with the disease on Aug. 10. About 1,940 patients were reported hospitalized Sept. 9.
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