People will again have to wear masks indoors in Stanislaus County as COVID-19 cases surge and the local healthcare systems strain under increased hospitalizations.
The order requires all people to wear face coverings when indoors in workplaces and public settings, with limited exemptions, and recommends that businesses make face coverings available to individuals entering their businesses. This order will take effect Saturday.
“The decision to go forward with a masking mandate is based on the need to protect our healthcare system. There is a concerning rise in hospitalizations that is threatening hospital capacity,” said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, Public Health Officer for Stanislaus County. “Masking is an essential tool that limits the transmission of the Delta variant as we continue to vaccinate the people who live, work and learn in Stanislaus County.”
Since restrictions were lifted on June 15, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased ninefold and the testing positivity rate has risen fourfold, according to the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency.
The Delta variant, which is more transmissible, is the predominant strain in Stanislaus. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Stanislaus have risen from 38 patients as of July 16 to 299 patients on Sept. 1.
“This surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations is threatening our local healthcare system,” SCHSA said in a news release. “At the same time as this surge in COVID-19 infections is occurring, there is also a high volume of hospitalizations from non-COVID-19 related diseases. COVID-19 hospitalizations combined with the medical needs arising from another historic wildfire season is stressing the capacity of our local hospitals and medical first responders to meet the medical needs of our county.”
Dr. Vaishampayan said hospitals in Stanislaus County have had to take patients from hospitals impacted by wildfires, which has increased the workload for healthcare workers.
“The continued increase in hospitalizations is concerning. Especially, when you look at the non- COVID-19 demands on our hospitals. We need to do something to protect our local hospitals so that we have capacity to take care of everyday medical needs. From what the CDC and the CDPH have learned about masking, it looks like masking is the least disruptive measure to slow the rate of transmission and keep our county moving forward,” said Vito Chiesa, Chair of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.
Public Health will continue to assess the situation as it evolves and may modify this order or issue additional orders related to COVID-19 as changing circumstances dictate.
Those who are not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated remain highly vulnerable to the infectious Delta variant. Vaccinations have proven to be effective against the Delta variant and all variants of COVID-19 – slowing the rate of spread and mitigating severe symptoms. All residents 12 and older are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. For a list of vaccination clinics, visit the Stanislaus County Public Health website (http://schsa.org/coronavirus/vaccine/).