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August 2, 2021 – Message from the Chief
Louise Rogers, chief, San Mateo County Health

Health Officer Updates Messages from the Chief

We have joined with the Bay Area counties and Dr. Morrow has issued an order, which takes effect tonight after midnight, mandating all individuals to wear face coverings when indoors in workplaces and public settings.

As you have heard, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), California Department of Public Health, and the Bay Area Health Officers were already recommending face coverings when indoors.

During the last few weeks, the CDC has also learned more about the Delta variant that is now the dominant and more contagious strain driving these increases, and their guidance along with the State’s has changed accordingly to slow the spread. As has been widely reported, most new cases in the United States are occurring among unvaccinated people. We continue to see that the rate of cases among unvaccinated residents is six or so times greater than it is for vaccinated residents and the unvaccinated are more at-risk of experiencing grave illness and hospitalization. In California, between July 14 and 20th, the case rate among unvaccinated people is 20.7 cases per 100,000 in the population, compared to 3.5 cases per 100,000 for those who are vaccinated. As reported throughout the country, over 95% of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID are among those who are unvaccinated. 

Breakthrough cases, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus were circulating, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of the virus and thus low levels of transmission to others. Last week, the CDC reported that although the vaccinations are indeed protecting those who have been vaccinated from significant symptoms and grave illness and hospitalizations, they have determined that people who become infected with the Delta variant in particular appear to be able to pass it on to others. This information led the CDC and the State to issue updated guidance and it led our San Mateo County Health Officer, in coordination with the other Bay Area county health officers, to issue the orders for face coverings. 

Vaccination remains our most power tool in the fight against COVID and we appreciate all your support as we strive to extend the vaccine’s reach among all our residents.

Thank you,