Santa Cruz County health worker issues indoor mask order starting November 21

Santa Cruz County health worker Dr Gail Newel issued a health order on Friday requiring people to wear face coverings indoors, regardless of their immunization status.

The order, which went into effect Sunday at 11:59 p.m., cites an increase in COVID-19 cases and an increase in hospitalizations before holidays and winter months.

“Unfortunately, a possible winter power surge appears to be a significant threat to the health and safety of our community,” Newel said in a prepared statement.

Santa Cruz County health worker Gail Newel delivers remarks as she stands with nine other health workers from across the Bay Area in June to support the opening of all schools in California for full-time in-person instruction this fall. (Karl Mondon – Bay Area News Group Report)

Masks should be worn in private places, including your home, when non-household members are present, the county noted. Newel said it was to protect vulnerable friends and family members.

To help ensure compliance, all businesses and government entities are called upon to require employees to wear masks and post visible, easy-to-read masking signs at all entry points to indoor facilities. Newel told the Sentinel on Friday afternoon that the entities were to do so by Monday morning.

When alone, Santa Cruz people do not need to wear a mask in a room or office as long as it is used only by themselves or by members of their household.

The county also does not expect residents to wear masks during indoor activities that are logistically difficult, such as eating, drinking, swimming, showering at a fitness center, or when obtaining medical or cosmetic services.

“If you are meeting with extended family and friends, especially those who have traveled from outside the area or who are not vaccinated, caution is best,” Newel said, adding that people who do not want to not wearing face coverings can also gather outside. . “We want to try to get used to the idea of ​​living with this virus and getting back to some kind of normalcy in activities, including being able to get together with people we love and not having to deny ourselves to our children,” our grandchildren or our grandparents. “

Newel said there is no expiration date for this order, but his team will closely monitor three metrics to determine when it is appropriate to cancel the order: case rate, virus count. breeding stock and the test positivity rate. The number of breeders determines how many individuals per infected person get COVID-19 from them – or, in other words, community transmission.

“These are the top three things to watch out for, but our big concern is also saving lives, so we will be watching for deaths and furthermore impacts on our health system,” Newel said. “There has been a dramatic increase in hospitalizations over the past week to two weeks. “

Contradictory appeals

Just across the border from Santa Cruz County, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday suspended an order requiring people to wear masks inside the county, citing unreliable federal health data .

In a 3-2 vote, supervisors ruled that the order be extinguished after County Administrative Officer Charles McKee informed them that Monterey County still had a “substantial” transmission according to CDC data, reported the Monterey Herald. McKee suggested he did not trust the CDC’s figures for local COVID-19 tracking.

This isn’t the first time Monterey and Santa Cruz counties appear to be on a different page – or even taken from a different book. Some levels of divergence may be related to varying transmission rates. For example, Santa Cruz County’s COVID-19 transmission rate was moderate when it gave up his last indoor mask term in late September. But Monterey County’s mask tenure was marked by a substantial transmission rate in early November.

Today the county finds itself in the position of Monterey County with much higher numbers than when the last term was canceled. Sentinel records show that at that time, the CDC reported that Santa Cruz County had 121 new cases of COVID-19 over a seven-day period at that time.

To improve local numbers, Newel said, the key remains vaccination. The CDC announced on Friday that all people 18 and older who are six months away from their second Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two months away from their Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a booster.

“When I help family members (find appointments), if you increase the mileage, there are often openings at the CVS Pharmacy in Felton and the Immunization Center in Watsonville. The vaccination center makes walk-in appointments and often has them open, ”said the health worker.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine and a list of vaccine suppliers, visit For more information on COVID-19, visit, or call 831-454-4242 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

By the numbers

Total number of cases: 20,721

Active cases: 455

Recoveries: 20,044

Deaths: 222

Current ICU hospitalizations: 0

Current hospitalizations: 9

Open beds in intensive care: 3

Negative tests: 222,522

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