MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — As COVID cases continue to spike in the Bay Area and California, Contra Costa County health officials on Tuesday issued a new health order requiring mask-wearing indoors in all public indoor places without exceptions.

The order now requires all people in the county, regardless of vaccination status, to mask in public indoor settings. Previously, fully vaccinated public speakers and performers, and fully vaccinated groups of 100 or fewer people were allowed to remove their face coverings under controlled conditions.

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The new health order goes into effect on December 29 and mirrors health orders in other Bay Area counties which also require everyone to mask in all indoor public settings.

“The omicron variant is very contagious, and we now know that anyone, regardless of vaccination status, can spread this variant to other people,” said Contra Costa County deputy health officer Dr. Ori Tzvieli in a prepared statement. “We anticipate the case rate and hospitalization numbers to increase over the coming weeks. To reduce spread, cases and hospitalizations, we all need to wear masks anytime we are in an indoor public setting.”

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The average number of daily new COVID-19 cases in the county has surged 149% over the last week while hospitalizations have jumped 31%. The first case of the omicron variant was in the county on was identified on December 18. From that day to December 24, the rolling seven-day average case rate in the county more than doubled, from 13.8 cases to 30.3 cases per 100,000 people, according to the health order.

Meanwhile, COVID hospitalizations increased between December 18 and December 26 from 32 patients to 52 patients. Cases and hospitalizations involve both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people; in the week leading to December 24, 62% of the 2,319 cases were in fully vaccinated people while 12 percent of the 2,319 cases were in fully vaccinated people who had also received
booster shots.

Contra Costa Health Services strongly urged everyone to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as they are able, saying the shots continue to offer the most effective protection against hospitalization and death from all variants of COVID-19 circulating in the county.

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Information on healthcare providers, pharmacies and clinics in the county offering COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots can be found at coronavirus.cchealth.org/get-vaccinated or by calling 1-833-829-2626.