Alameda County Mask Mandate Starts Tuesday, August 3, 2021

white, sterile kN95 masks against white table
KN95 masks. Photo courtesy of Markus Winkler via Unsplash.

Alameda County will have a mask mandate starting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 3, 2021). What this means is, regardless of if you’re vaccinated, you must wear a mask indoors at all public spaces. This mask mandate is in conjunction with six other counties (Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma) in the Bay Area, plus the City of Berkeley.

This is a reversal of the previous allowance that started June 15 for those who are fully vaccinated to not have to wear masks indoors, such as while grocery shopping.

While there is a high vaccination rate in Alameda County—overall, nearly 72% who are eligible (12 and older) are fully vaccinated—still many are not. Oakland’s rate is almost as high at nearly 69% who are fully vaccinated. But that means about 30% of the population is still not vaccinated, and that percentage does not include anyone under the age of 12 years-old, who cannot get vaccinated yet.

This is also an equity issue. There are some people who can’t get vaccinated, including younger children and some immune-compromised people. In Oakland, it is a racial equity issue as well. The vaccination rate for Latino/Hispanic people and African Americans are lower than the average of all Oaklanders.

More people who are vaccinated are now getting infected with COVID, which means they can spread it to others, whether they are vaccinated or not. The Alameda County Public Health Department emphasized today that people who are vaccines do protect people. Vaccinated people who get COVID have less severe cases, less hospitalizations, and less deaths. But they could spread it to unvaccinated people, who are much less protected since they are not vaccinated.


COVID positive rates are going up in Alameda County. On July 29, 2021, the most recent available report on the county’s website, states that 497 people tested positive in the county. That is higher than in July 2020.

Author Profile

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Co-Director. Her work focuses on healthcare, immigration, education, Asian American communities, food and culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Momo has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting and the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Her work has appeared in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, and The New York Times. Momo is primarily a print journalist who also produces audio and visual stories for documentary film and radio. She is a Senior Contributing Editor for Hyphen and formerly the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

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