Hello everyone, this is Julia Carrie Wong in Oakland, California, picking up the live blog for the rest of the afternoon.
Public health officials for seven San Francisco bay area counties have just announced that they are reinstating an indoor mask mandate amid a “sharp increase” in coronavirus cases attributed to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The indoor mask rules, which will apply to everyone regardless of vaccination status, will go into effect Tuesday and cover more than 7m people across the region, which includes San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.
“Indoor masking is a temporary measure that will help us deal with the Delta variant, which is causing a sharp increase in cases, and we know increases in hospitalizations and deaths will follow,” said Dr Naveena Bobba, San Francisco’s acting health officer, in a statement. “When we all wear face coverings indoors, we are protecting our fellow residents and helping our healthcare workers.”
Bobba stressed that Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization, but noted that the CDC has found that even fully vaccinated people may spread the Delta variant to others.
The reinstatement comes just six weeks after California relaxed coronavirus restrictions on 15 June. The bay area counties follow Los Angeles, Yolo and Sacramento counties in reinstating indoor mask mandates since then.
Daily cases of Covid-19 in the Bay Area have increased more than 500% since 1 July, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, while hospitalizations have increased about 400%.