Face coverings now mandatory in Alameda County

oakland oak tree with covid-19 mask
Alameda County now requires all people to wear face coverings in public. Graphic by Rasheed Shabazz for Oakland Voices.

Starting today, all Alameda County residents must wear face coverings when outside. 

The most recent health orders, issued by Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan, requires people to wear face coverings in public and outlines a reopening plan for the County, which includes the formation of groups of 12 or less folks, called “social bubbles.” 

The most recent face covering order requires face coverings to be worn at all times, including when you are outdoors and physical activities like walking, running, or biking within 30 feet of people outside of your household. Face coverings are coverings of cloth, fabric, or other material that covers the nose and mouth and lower face. Masks can be reusable if washed. 

“Everyone should wear a face covering anytime they are outside the home and around other people,” Dr. Pan said in a release. “This helps decrease the exposure for all of us and is one of the few tools we have that will allow us to decrease risk as we gradually allow for more activities outside the home.” 

Face coverings are due in places where others may frequent. Bus operators and ride-share drivers must wear face coverings. Passengers must wear them while riding on public transit and waiting at bus stops. A face covering is not required while in a vehicle with family members or the same household, however, face coverings are required in ride-sharing vehicles. 

An image of a fabric face mask in fuchsia and green with "Town Girl" on the label.
A mask made by @hellacrafty on Instagram.

Face coverings are not required for children under 12, due to concerns of suffocation. 

People can take off their masks outdoors or within their “social bubbles.” 

Oakland residents can now form “social bubbles”

Dr. Pan’s second order defines a “social bubble” as “a stable group of not more than 12 individuals, who may attend outdoor social or other events together. A Social Bubble may be comprised of a combination of households, but no household or individual may participate in more than one Social Bubble.”

Trust will be important for social bubbles. It’s a new kind of committed relationship. 

For instance, three families consisting of four people each can combine to become a “social bubble” of 12. Or, it could be six couples (assuming a couple is two). The families or couples a part of one “social bubble” cannot be with others. It’s like a COVID Clique or a Corona Crew. 

Social bubbles is part of a reopening plan. The plan depends on local indicators that will be reviewed at 2-4 week intervals. According to the County’s tips, the social bubbles should commit to the relationship for three weeks. Everyone has to agree to the same rules, like social distancing and face coverings, and should agree “to have no hard feelings if it doesn’t work out.” 

chart showing increase of new covid-19 cases, on weekly basis
The weekly average number of positive COVID-19 cases in Oakland has generally been increasing. (Rasheed Shabazz for Oakland Voices)

Oakland has 1,500 cases of coronavirus

The new order takes effect as coronavirus cases surpass the 1,500 mark in Oakland.

There are 1,515 cases of COVID-19 in Oakland, as of this weekend. Alameda County has 3,945 cases and 101 deaths, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department. 

May saw the highest daily increase of COVID-19 cases. Oakland reported 137 cases on May 30. 

The average number of weekly cases has been on the rise since May, about the same time as new public testing sites opened in Oakland. 

Other updates with the new health orders

The reopening plan will lead to expanded social bubbles and limited religious and cultural gatherings. Eventually, this will lead to the reopening of offices and indoor dining and pro sports without fans. The next levels will be schools, bars, gyms, and gatherings of less than 100 people, then finally, concerts, conventions, and professional sports. 

The most recent orders also allow child care providers to provide for all children. Summer programs like internship and pathway programs can resume and libraries can open for curbside pickup of books and other media. Additionally, other businesses can provide limited person-to-person services, like appliance repair and pet grooming. 

The purpose of the orders is to prevent transmission of COVID-19. The most recent orders were issued on June 5 and  took effect at 11:59 p.m. on June 7, and maintain the restrictions put in place on May 18.

About Rasheed Shabazz

Rasheed Shabazz is a multimedia storyteller, urban planning historian, and youth development professional based in the Bay Area. He coordinates Oakland Voices and is currently in the Masters of City and Regional Planning program at UC Berkeley.  View all posts by Rasheed Shabazz →

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