COVID-19 cases are again rising in Contra Costa County as it and other Bay Area counties are issuing a new masking order that applies to workers at “high-risk” health care facilities.

Contra Costa Health chief executive officer Anna Roth told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday that countywide hospital admissions for COVID-19 have increased since July, from 8.1 per day to 12.1.

“So it’s going up,” Roth said. “It’s not huge. We are able to handle the increased demand for some hospital beds, but it is going up.”

“We are issuing the health order today around masking for high-risk facilities, health care facilities specifically.”

Anna Roth, Contra Costa Health

In response to the increased cases in the Bay Area — which health officials attribute to the latest mutated strain of COVID-19 — Roth said Contra Costa Health and other Bay Area health agencies are implementing new mask requirements for health care workers.

“We are issuing the health order today around masking for high-risk facilities, health care facilities specifically,” Roth said. “So again, masking in hospitals, masking in skilled nursing facilities, masking in high-risk facilities.”

General public not affected

The new masking order will not affect patients or visitors to affected health care facilities.

Roth said the new order will not include other residential congregate settings, such as detention facilities and homeless shelters.

Roth also said the latest vaccine — which isn’t considered a booster, but an entirely new vaccine that replaces the former vaccine and handles the newest variants — will be available in Contra Costa County either at the end of this week or beginning of next week.

“For those of you who have not been vaccinated in the last 60 days, you will be eligible,” Roth said. “This is a vaccine for everybody 6 months and over.”

Roth said the county is no longer running any mass vaccination sites and people should go to their regular providers.

“We do expect that there will be high demand the first couple of weeks,” Roth said. “What we have historically seen is that demand settles down and your regular providers will have the vaccine available.”

Roth said Contra Costa Health providers will turn no one away, but it’s important to go to a regular provider, who can record the vaccination for people to keep track.

Dr. Sefanit Mekuria, the county’s deputy health officer, told the board the county — and county libraries — are still offering free test kits through the mail.

Contra Costa Health has more information about COVID-19 in Contra Costa County on its website.