SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Santa Clara County health officials announced on the morning of March 1 that the county is dropping the indoor mask requirement, moving to a recommendation, as of March 2 midnight for all people regardless of vaccination status.
For weeks, Santa Clara had been the only Bay Area county to still have an indoor mask mandate.
Last fall, all Bay Area counties adopted a set of three shared metrics to determine when to drop their masking rules. As of Feb. 24, Santa Clara County met for the first time the metric of 550 or fewer cases per day for a full week.
Prior to then, the county had already met the targets of low and stable hospitalization numbers and an 80 percent or higher vaccination rate.
“We’ve reached a level where it feels safe enough to make the transition from requirement to strong recommendation, and that’s the transition we’re making as of tomorrow, March 2,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s health officer, during the Tuesday morning press conference.
Cody clarified that her office is still recommending masks in certain indoor settings because officials say people who are at “high risk” may still be concerned about contracting COVID-19.
Cody added that there is no countywide vaccination mandate.
In addition, the statewide mask mandate for K–12 schools and childcare facilities will end March 12 per Governor Gavin Newsom’s Feb. 28 announcement. Santa Clara County will align with state guidelines. Masks will still be required on public transit and in health care settings, shelters, and jails.
Some locals said they are ready to take off their masks.
“I personally don’t like the masks, but people are going to be upset about it. I honestly feel like that we should have our masks taken off finally. You know, show our true faces. That’s what we needed, like, three years ago,” said Michael Cool, a student at San Jose State University.
However, another person said he does not mind the masks.
“I think it’s too soon. I think we should keep it for at least another year, until it has to decrease dramatically. That’s when we’re really ready, or when we get a for sure vaccine that can for sure prevent it, then that’s when we should get rid of it,” said Gabriel Corona, another student at San Jose State University.
Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties were the last two in the state to drop indoor masking requirements. Los Angeles County’s mandate ended Feb. 25, making Santa Clara County the last to drop the rule.