Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Napa County requires mask wearing in indoor public spaces starting Friday, as COVID-19 cases mount

Napa County requires mask wearing in indoor public spaces starting Friday, as COVID-19 cases mount

From the Napa News Now: Check out the stories Napa County residents are talking about this week series
Mask wearing in downtown Napa

Diners and waitstaff wore face coverings at an outdoor table outside a Main Street restaurant in downtown Napa in May. Napa County is reinstating a requirement for people to wear masks in public indoor spaces, effective Friday, in response to a recent rise in coronavirus cases and the spread of a more virulent Delta variant of COVID-19.

Napa County is requiring people to wear face masks inside all public indoor spaces, joining seven other Bay Area counties in reviving mask mandates as coronavirus infections again increase locally and nationwide.

The order, which the county announced just before 5 p.m. Thursday, takes force at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The directive from county Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Relucio requires all people to wear face coverings while indoors at workplaces and other public venues, with limited exemptions, and also recommends that businesses provide face coverings to visitors who enter.

While a majority of eligible Napa County residents has now received coronavirus vaccines, a summertime increase in COVID-19 infections driven by a more contagious Delta variant of the virus – combined with a rising number of hospitalizations connected to the disease – drove the decision to reimpose mandatory mask wearing, Relucio said in the county’s statement.

“The decision to go forward with a masking mandate, when Napa County has mostly followed state guidance, is based on the need to protect our health care system,” she said. “Although Napa County has high vaccination rates, with 75% of eligible residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there is still a concerning rise in hospitalizations that is threatening hospital capacity. Masking is an essential tool that limits the transmission of the Delta variant as we continue to all get vaccinated.”

Exceptions to the mask-wearing rule include cases when a person is in one's own home solely with household members; working in a closed room or office; eating, drinking, or performing an activity that cannot be done with a face covering; or to communicate with a hearing-impaired person, according to county spokesperson Danielle Adams.

On Tuesday, San Francisco and six other Bay Area counties reinstated mask-wearing directives, reversing a safety measure from the COVID-19 pandemic that had been relaxed since mid-June after infection rates fell from a mid-winter spike. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also changed its mask guidance last week, recommending face coverings for those living in areas with “high” or “substantial” coronavirus spread.

The more virulent Delta variant now comprises up to 85% of the COVID-19 variants circulating in California. It may cause more severe illness than other forms of the virus and can be passed on to other people by fully vaccinated people as well, according to the county.

While widespread vaccination is the best long-term defense against COVID-19, “universal indoor use of face coverings is the least disruptive and most immediately impactful additional measure to take to control the spread of the virus, and particularly the more highly contagious Delta variant,” the county statement added.

The county described a mask requirement as a key to allowing businesses, schools and events to continue operating, and officials supported the return to full-time, in-person teaching with safety measures in place. Napa Valley Unified, the county’s largest public school network with more than 16,000 students in Napa and American Canyon, is scheduled to reopen campuses Aug. 18, requiring all students and faculty to use face coverings while indoors.

COVID-19 infections have increased in Napa County for five weeks running, totaling 168 for July 23-29 and more than tripling from 240 in June to 886 in July. Earlier Thursday, the county reported 45 new positive cases, a day after confirming the death of a woman Tuesday in the city of Napa from the virus, the 85th such fatality in the county since the pandemic’s arrival in California in early 2020.

That first fall school drop-off is coming. For many families, its a fall fully back in class, and it's causing some worry.  Just ask 12-year-old Janelle Velador. Shes going into seventh grade in East Palo Alto, California. But despite some spring and summer school in person, shes still adjusting.  "I was kind of nervous."And for her mom, Evie, the nerves are the same. Even though Janelle is vaccinated against COVID, Evie's 8-year-old son isn't eligible yet.  "Scary, because you just don't know what to expect. We thought we were almost out in the clear," Evie Velador said.And then of course, theres the Delta variant, spreading even among those vaccinated.  "It's much more contagious than the common cold. It's about as contagious as chicken pox, which is a very contagious virus," said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University."Because it's the Delta. You know, it's it's getting worse. You know, once you think you're taking one step forward, you take two steps backward," Evie Velador said.How worried should parents be about their child catching COVID in school this fall?  "Rates of infection school are extremely low in general, probably lower than the outside community. So if your kids are going to spend their day somewhere, schools are the right place to spend it," Dr. Lynn Silver, a pediatrician and public health adviser at the Public Health Institute, said. The latest science shows overall, children who do get COVID are more likely to have mild symptoms. They can still transmit the virus, and they can still have potential complications. "It all depends on the prevalence in your area and the activities that you're doing. And so the amount of contact kids are having is a factor in the amount of contact they may have to people exposed. If you have a very high prevalence in the community, there is transmission to kids," says Dr. Michelle Prickett, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at  Northwestern Memorial Hospital.Dr. Michelle Prickett is a mother of three, two of whom aren't eligible yet for vaccinations. She says while she waits for that, there are still layers of other protection for children. "We need to think about having vaccination rates as high as possible for those students that are eligible. We also need to think about masking and ventilation are really the keys to making sure people are safe and then using our screening tools that we have," she said.At Janelles school, that includes a once-weekly rapid COVID test. That's something that has given both her and mom peace of mind going into the fall.  "There is nothing really to be scared about, they're just checking to see if you're sick or not," Janelle said."It makes me feel a level of certainty that we're going to be OK, at least when it comes to the kids bringing anything back from school," Evie Velador said. CNN contributed to this report. 

Catch up on Napa County's top news stories

In case you missed it, here is a look at the most-read stories on

Get unlimited digital access to the Napa Valley Register for just $1 for your first 6 months! Enjoy every article without restrictions and find tons of subscriber-only perks, such as access to our daily eEdition. Click here for details!

You can reach Howard Yune at 530-763-2266 or

Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News