COVID-19 continues to circulate in our communities and poses a risk especially for those who are not up to date on their vaccination. When people wear a mask correctly, they protect others as well as themselves.
Anyone, 2 years of age and older, may want to continue masking, regardless of vaccination status and even when the County COVID-19 Community Level is Low, in indoor public settings and businesses.
Some people should not wear a mask, such as children younger than 2 and people with certain medical conditions or disabilities.
- In health care settings (applies to all health care settings)*
- In long-term care settings and adult and senior care facilities*
- Exposed persons should wear a mask for 10 days
- Persons with COVID-19 should wear a mask for 10 days when with others, even if able to leave isolation before then
- Indoors when required by businesses, government offices, youth-serving facilities, and workplace settings**
- When required by train, bus, ferry, taxis and ride-share operators**
- Indoors in transportation hubs like bus terminals, train stations, marinas, seaports or other ports, subway stations, or any other area that provides transportation when required by transit systems**
*In certain health care situations or settings surgical masks (or higher filtration masks) are required.
** In workplaces, employers and employees are subject to either the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.
Facilities may use the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels to determine the level of masking requirements within their facility.
- Homeless shelters, Emergency shelters, and cooling and heating centers
- State and local correctional facilities and detention centers - Please note: At this time correctional facilities in Alameda County must follow the masking policies for County of Alameda-operated facilities.
When the COVID-19 Community Level is low, masking may be optional:
- Only in non-clinical areas^ (such as in housing units, communal dining areas, visitation areas, and in administrative areas where only staff may have access), and
- When there have been no outbreaks (defined as three suspected, probable, or confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period among epidemiologically linked residents and/or staff) in the entire facility or within separated, closed subunits that do not allow for mixing of those residents or staff with the general population.
Facilities should make surgical masks or higher-level respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) with good fit available at all times to any residents and staff who would like to use them based on their personal preference.
^Universal masking of all staff and residents, regardless of vaccination status and Community Level, is required in all clinical areas (or when any healthcare is being delivered), including isolation and quarantine areas, or any other areas that are covered by other specified high-risk settings.
When the COVID-19 Community Level is medium or high:
Facilities must maintain or reinstate universal masking requirements for all staff and residents, regardless of if there are no outbreaks within the facility.
Follow these tips for protection against COVID-19:
- Get vaccinated and boosted – vaccination is the single most important action to prevent severe disease and death from COVID-19.
- Layer your protection — in addition to vaccination and masking, improve ventilation (or gather outdoors), get tested if exposed or ill, and stay home if sick.
- Talk to your medical provider if you are immunocompromised or have other health risks.
You can choose to wear a mask, especially if you answer yes to any of the following:
- Are you over age 65 or have health issues that puts you at risk for a severe case of COVID-19?
- Are you missing one or more of your COVID-19 vaccine doses?
- Do you live/visit with people at risk of going to the hospital if they get COVID-19?
- Do you go to work or interact with the public regularly?
- Are cases High where you live, in your social group, or where you are going?
- Do you feel safer with a mask?
- California’s Face Masking Guidance
- Get the Most Out of Masking
- California’s Vaccine Record Guidelines and Standards
- California’s Face Masking FAQ
- CDC Guidance for using masks
- CDC Science Brief: Community Use of Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2
- CDC Guidance for N95 Respirators
- Find Free N95 Masks
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