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As COVID Cases Continue Declining, Santa Clara County Creeps Toward Ending Indoor Mask Mandate

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Santa Clara County could be days away from shedding its indoor mask mandate for those fully vaccinated as COVID-19 cases continue a steep decline.

On Wednesday, county Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told supervisors in a meeting that she expected the seven-day rolling average to dip below 550 new cases on Thursday. If cases remain below that threshold for one week, the indoor mask requirement is expected to be lifted. The rolling average stood at 555 new cases as of Wednesday.

But while many are looking forward to the easing of the mask mandate there are others who will continue to live cautiously, including Bob Rucker.

Rucker, a retired CNN correspondent and San Jose State University professor of journalism and mass communications, takes care of his disabled sister. She has Down syndrome, Alzheimer's and most recently her health took a turn for the worst when the virus kept her from the Hope Center Downtown in San Jose. The center, Rucker said, was where his sister was able to exercise both physically and mentally.

"She's very weak, she's lost a lot of weight and we started home hospice care about three weeks ago," said Rucker.

When Cody announced a couple weeks ago that Santa Clara County would be the lone holdout and keep its indoor mask mandate, Rucker said he didn't mind at all. He said he'll continue to wear a mask to keep his sister safe even after the requirement is lifted.

"I have asthma and I hate wearing a mask, it's very difficult to breathe sometimes," he said. "But to save her life, I have no problem. In perfect honesty, Dr. Cody did the right thing, especially for my family."

Cody explained to supervisors why she decided to be more conservative with the health measure than the rest of the Bay Area.

"There are, of course, a number of people living in our community who remain vulnerable," she said. "They still need another layer of protection until the community transmission abates a bit."

Currently, more than 100 million Americans remain unvaccinated; a number of them aren't able to get vaccinated because of medical or other reasons.

But on Wednesday, Cody announced that hospitalizations were low, vaccinations were high and new cases were declining toward the goal that she's set to lift the mask requirement.

"These masks are important to individual families and people where there are situations where immune systems could be compromised," said Rucker.


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