Ashanti Presley, a library assistant, shelves books at the Berkeley Central Library on Sept. 30, 2021. The upcoming 20th Annual Authors Dinner will help raise money to support the library system's programs and facilities. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

A public indoor mask mandate ends in Alameda County on Wednesday while masks remain “recommended for everyone,” county health officer Dr. Nicholas Moss told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon.

Alameda County is joining 11 other local jurisdictions in ending the mandate, which is the state’s policy, too.

“This does land as a big change for some people,” Moss said.

Residents and visitors will still be required to wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are unvaccinated and in health care and child care settings, schools, long-term care facilities and jails and prisons regardless of vaccination status.

Moss said the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 is much lower now than in the peak of the winter wave. That peak was the highest of any since the pandemic began, county data show.

“We have come down substantially from that,” Moss said.

Not everyone was happy with Moss’ decision to join the other jurisdictions in ending the mandate.

Supervisor Keith Carson said he prefers keeping the mandate in place until there is “a much better sense of where things are going.”

In public comment, a caller by the name of Jenn L. was disturbed by Moss’s decision.

“You are sending people to their deaths,” she said.

Earlier, Moss said that that the county may need masks again. He argued that health officials need to be mindful of how they are using their emergency powers so that those powers are effective again if needed.

In Moss’ report, which he has delivered at many board meetings, he said the case rate in the county on Feb. 6 was at 53 per 100,000 residents per day and falling.

About 240 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 or with something else along with COVID-19, he said.

Since Jan. 1, 113 people in the county have died from COVID-19 and Moss expects that number to rise.

During the winter wave last year, 720 people died, Moss said.

Vaccination data show 82.2 percent of all county residents are fully vaccinated and 54 percent of all 5- to 11-year-olds are fully vaccinated.

More than 800,000 booster shots have been given, Moss reported. Among the fully vaccinated in the county, 59 percent have received a booster.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.