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Bay Area health officers urge return to masking, other COVID precautions amid latest surge

The current surge has spurred an extremely contagious subvariant, known as BA.2, of the already highly contagious omicron variant
BCN-20210211-COVID-10
This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist was testing patients samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, using the CDC serologic test.

Health officials in 11 counties urged residents across the greater Bay Area Friday to once again take COVID-19 precautions like masking as cases and hospitalizations rise across the region.

Officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties said in a joint statement that the Bay Area now has one of the state's highest infection rates.

“While San Mateo County is not currently considering implementing a local health order to require indoor masking, we stress that this is a time for everyone to take advantage of all the protective measures they can,” said Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County health officer.

The current surge has spurred an extremely contagious subvariant, known as BA.2, of the already highly contagious omicron variant.

"If you've chosen not to wear a mask in indoor public places recently, now is a good time to start again," said Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer Dr. George Han said in a statement.

The health officials also called on those who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so and urged people who test positive for the virus to seek over-the-counter medications like Paxlovid that reduce the risk of developing serious complications from the infection.

Even with one of the highest case rates in the state, the pure number of COVID-positive residents across the Bay Area is likely much higher than currently measured, according to the health officials, since rapid at-home tests are widely available and their results are generally not reported to local health departments and the state.

"There's a lot of COVID out there right now, so it's time to take more precautionary measures to protect yourself and your loved ones," Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Ori Tzvieli said.

Bay Area residents are encouraged to contact their health care provider or visit the website of their local public health department for information about the virus.