SANTA CRUZ—Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel on Friday issued a health order requiring all people to wear a face-covering when indoors in public spaces and when visiting or hosting people from outside of their households, regardless of vaccination status.
The order goes into effect Monday.
“Unfortunately, a potential winter surge appears to be a significant threat to the health and safety of our community,” Newel said in a press release. “As we look forward to spending time with those we love during the holidays, it is important to protect vulnerable friends and family members by wearing a mask indoors.”
Everyone who has not been vaccinated should get their first dose as soon as possible, and anyone who was vaccinated more than six months ago should seek out a booster, Newel added.
The order comes after a 29% increase in the county’s case rates in the past 14 days. The county’s testing positivity rate has also risen, and its effective reproductive number has surpassed 1.00, meaning that every person contracting Covid-19 is spreading the coronavirus to more than one person.
“That’s an indicator that we’re heading into a surge,” Health Services Agency spokesperson Corinne Hyland said. “We want to make sure that we’re protecting people and our health care system.”
According to county data, at least 455 people are currently testing positive for Covid-19. Just a couple of weeks ago, Hyland said, the number of people who had the disease was in the low 200s.
Hyland said the county believes the increased number of cases is related to gatherings around Halloween.
All businesses and governmental entities must require employees to wear masks and post signage that is clearly visible and easy to read at all entry points for indoor settings informing the public of the mask requirement.
Those working in a closed room or office alone, or with members of their household, do not have to wear a mask, and masks are not required during indoor activities where they cannot be worn safely such as eating, drinking, swimming, showering in a fitness facility or obtaining medical or cosmetic services.
Masks, however, must be worn in private settings, including a person’s home, when people from outside of their household are present.
The order will remain in place indefinitely, Newel said.
For information on Covid-19 vaccine and a list of vaccine providers including local pop-up clinics, visit santacruzhealth.org/coronavirusvaccine.