Residents at San Mateo-Santa Clara County border weigh in on differing indoor mask rules

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Pandemic predicament: Mask rules differ at these county borders
Santa Clara County and San Mateo County have different mask rules, which may cause confusion for residents along the border.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- We've all had to wear masks for most of the pandemic. However, come Wednesday, all Bay Area counties, except Santa Clara, will allow fully vaccinated people to take off masks in indoor, public spaces.

RELATED: California indoor mask mandate ending: What to know, what's different in the Bay Area

"We may have a bonfire tomorrow and just burn 'em all," San Mateo Co. resident Anthony Poore said about masks.

Places like shops, banks, movie theaters, restaurants and more will allow fully vaccinated customers to go mask free.

"For me, honestly it just means being able to go and not worry about one more thing to grab," he told ABC7 News. "Especially places where I gotta run in and go out."

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However, only blocks away, if Poore was to take a short trip into bordering Santa Clara County, he'll have to put a mask back on, indoors.

"I guess that may be a little bit annoying. You kinda still have to carry one around. You may be over here, but then I gotta do some shopping over by Stanford and now I gotta put my mask on," he continued. "That will cause confusion."

Keep in mind, business owners can set their own rules, and mask mandates will remain in place across all public transportation and in schools.

Even with the unmasking option, we found residents living on the San Mateo-Santa Clara County border who feel it's best to wear face covers.

San Mateo County resident Lavonne Robertson said, "I'm gonna keep mine on. I don't care what they do! I'm gonna keep mine on."

VIDEO: Mask mandate to remain in place for CA schools as guidelines lift for other indoor activities

Dr. Mark Ghaly says although the indoor mask mandate will be lifted for vaccinated people on Feb. 15, it will remain in effect for schoolchildren.

Santa Clara County resident Giovanna Winder shared, "I work with young kids and some of them, they don't have the vaccine yet. So, I think it's very important to keep the kids safe."

Even San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa said he's not letting his guard down and plans to continue masking up.

"I said in the beginning of this pandemic, 'Wear your damn mask,'" Sup. Canepa told ABC7 News. "What I'm saying now is, 'If you feel comfortable, wear your damn mask. And no one should be ashamed.'"

In Santa Clara County, Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody is looking at three metrics before deciding to lift the indoor mask mandate: Vaccination, hospitalization and case rates.

In early February, she told reporters, "There are three metrics we are following. I expect hospitalizations will be the second we meet. Then we will look at community transmission. Our goal is 550 cases a day, seven day moving average and that we hold there for a week before lifting. Our model suggests we may get there sometime in early or mid-March," she said.

RELATED: Could the COVID-19 pandemic end soon? Here's what experts say about endemic phase

The highly-infectious omicron variant could hasten the pandemic to end after the surge, according to several experts ABC7 News talked to.

On Tuesday, County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith told the County Board of Supervisors, "Our vaccination rate is very high- highest of the large counties in the nation. Our hospitalization rate is low, but where we're failing to meet the measure is in the case rate."

Dr. Smith continued, "That being said, just like the state, we're assessing and we're trying to protect a large volume of unvaccinated kids, and elders and people with immune deficiencies."