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

Trustworthy information about COVID-19

Break the Chain of Transmission

About PlaneTree Health Library

PlaneTree Health Library's mission is to guide the public to trustworthy, accurate, and free health and medical information. In operation since 1989, it is a free, public, patient and consumer health library and 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It does not accept advertisements; it has no commercial relationship with the sources of information on these webpages. Visit our online information guides linked from our main website at:

1. Wear a Fitted Face Mask that Covers Nose and Mouth

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

As of March 2, 2022 wearing a mask indoors is no longer required, but it's still recommended.

However, we still may be required to wear a mask :

There are exemptions for:

  • children under 2 years old; and 
  • while communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.

See the California statewide guidance on masks for more details.

Free N95 masks are available from pharmacy chains throughout the US.

If you do wear a mask, be sure to wear it properly! It needs to fit close to the face, and cover both nose and mouth.

how to wear a face mask

Current recommendations are to wear a mask that is equivalent to an N-95 (KN94, KF94, or similar) although if that's not available, here are some alternatives:

2. Testing, Distancing, Staying Home when Sick

Now that at-home rapid antigen tests are readily available in the U.S., we need to think about when to test to help slow the spread. Definitely test if the symptoms of COVID are present, but asymptomatic infections mean that we could spread it without even knowing. The CDC's online testing calculator helps to make that decision. To decide if we should test ourselves, use the for individuals link below. (The for organizations link is intended to help schools, health facilities, etc. decide how often to test their personnel.)

Our section on Testing has a lot more information in detail.

Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces

Stay home when sickTest often; wash hands often

3. Get Vaccines and Up-to-Date Boosters

Getting vaccinated agains SARS-CoV-2 protects ourselves, but it also protects the people around us. It greatly lowers the chance of getting sick, and when sick, also reduces the chances of shedding virus to infect others.

However, as explained in the section of this guide on Vaccines, immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is not a one-time shot. Our antibodies fade over time,  and as this virus mutates, may fail to respond as strongly to new variations. Booster shots are necessary to keep up immunity.

The bivalent booster approved in fall 2022 covers both the original variant of SARS-CoV-2 and the more recent variants of the Omicron version of this virus. It is available to everyone 6 months +.

Proof of Vaccination

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, 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 will be needed to record future doses. Be sure that your proof of vaccination is updated when you get each vaccine booster

If you don't have your original vaccination card with you when getting the next dose, check to make sure that your digital vaccination record - see below - has been updated with that information. If it has not, follow the process for a lost vaccination card to correct your information.

What if you've lost your vaccination card? For people in Santa Clara County, here's advice from our county Public Health Department:

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). Check these sources for the most recent information.

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.

Despite airline bans on carrying on liquids and gels, travelers are permitted to bring some amounts of hand sanitizer onto a plane - see these links for details.

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