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Coronavirus and COVID-19 Information: Santa Clara County and Bay Area, California

Trustworthy information about COVID-19

Face Masks

There have been several different Orders and recommendations about face coverings - here are requirements and guidelines currently in effect in the Bay Area. 

As cases of COVID are rising again, as of August 3, everyone is required to wear a mask indoors (with the now-familiar exceptions), per a joint Order the Bay Area Public Health Departments for the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma, plus the City of Berkeley. This order includes people who have been vaccinated.

In addition, as of June 21, 2021 the requirements are:

Unvaccinated people in CA are required to wear a covering over their mouth and nose when they are:

  • inside (or in line to enter) any indoor public space (retail, restaurants except when eating, theaters and entertainment centers, meetings, and government offices);
  • waiting for, or using public transportation (including ride sharing, taxis, and tow trucks);
  • at work, if coworkers or members of the public are ever present in the same space.

There are exemptions for:

  • children under 2 years old; 
  • while communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing; and 
  • while eating at a restaurant so long as there is at least 6 feet distance from anyone who does not live in the same household.

People who have been fully vaccinated still need to wear a mask when

See the California statewide guidance on masks for more details.

Not all masks are equally effective, as this video explains:

What can I do After Vaccination?

The CDC guidelines are greatly relaxed once someone is fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks after last vaccination), but we may still need to take some precautions. See link above for the Bay Area recommendations on July 16, 2021.

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 On July 28, the CDC recommended that everyone, including fully vaccinated people, wear a mask indoors except for in their own households, when the 7-day case rate for the local area or nearby counties is 50 cases per 100,000 people or higher, or the COVID-19 test positivity rate is higher than 5%. This change reflects the much higher infection rates of the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant (as were the Bay Area recommendations of July 16).

With that exception, the guidance in these CDC links  is still current:

Advice on getting together with other households is more complicated, depending on whether all adults have been vaccinated, and/or anyone is especially at risk.

CDC guidance on gathering with other households, vaccinated vs. unvaccinated people

Proof of Vaccination

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Some activities now ask for proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter or to participate. That could mean showing the card that recorded date(s) and time(s) of vaccination. But it's all too easy to lose that card if it is kept in a wallet or pocket. Instead, it is wiser to keep that card in a safe place, and use one of these alternatives:

  • make a photocopy of both sides, and keep that close to hand in a pocket or wallet or car; or
  • take a photo of both sides with a smartphone; or
  • (for people in California), get a verifiable QR code link to store on a smartphone or other device using the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record.

(Please don't laminate your vaccine card - it may be needed to record future booster doses!)

What if you've lost your vaccination card? For people in Santa Clara County, here's what our county Public Health Department suggest these ways to get a replacement:

Request vaccine verification from the state

visit the vaccination site (if it is still open)

contact the healthcare provider that administered the vaccine

Advice on Travel

COVID-19 is pandemic; people are infected all over the world. Travel was - and is - the main way this disease is spread from community to community, from my town to your town, and between countries. That regulation is still in effect as of June 2021.

As of January 29, 2021, the federal government requires everyone to wear a mask when using transit (including air travel).

While public transit is a necessity in the traffic-congested Bay Area, there's also concern about possible spread of the novel coronavirus on buses and trains. Routes may be changed during the pandemic, and policies may change - check the websites relevant for you frequently.

To slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control publishes updates, recommendations for travelers, and news about travel restrictions.

Be aware of the travel restrictions in place, both for the destination and for when you return home (may be required to quarantine when arrive).

Need to change tickets? See the roundup of U.S. airline policies below.

Besides considering the risks of traveling to and from your destination, also investigate what's done at your lodging to limit exposure (ask about hotel or B&B cleaning practices) and calculate the risks of the kinds of activities you plan to include on the trip.

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