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Alameda, Contra Costa to continue mask mandates for staff at skilled nursing facilities

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Outspoken UCSF COVID expert Dr. Bob Wachter on when he's still wearing a mask 02:56

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY – As state health officials lift the mask mandate for health care settings, Alameda and Contra Costa counties will continue requiring face coverings for staff at skilled nursing facilities.

On Monday, health departments in both counties said their requirements will go into effect on April 3, just as the state mandate expires. The new mask rules won't apply to patients or visitors seeing their loved ones.

Health officials said they are continuing to require staff be masked as seniors in nursing homes are among the most vulnerable populations to COVID-19.

"Alameda County is moving cautiously with our skilled nursing facilities because they serve a large and highly vulnerable population of generally older adults with complex medical conditions. Some of the most devastating impacts of the pandemic occurred among residents of skilled nursing facilities," health officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said.

Contra Costa health officer Dr. Ori Tzivieli said, "We know from our experience during the pandemic that the people SNFs serve – seniors with serious underlying health problems – are the ones who are most susceptible to severe outcomes from a COVID infection." 

While California's pandemic-related state of emergency was lifted on February 28, local health officials can still issue masking orders. In statements to KPIX, both counties said the policies would be reviewed monthly.

There are 66 skilled nursing facilities in Alameda County, while Contra Costa County has 30.

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