The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced it is easing its masking recommendation for the first time since mid-February to align with federal recommendations.
The new rules shift from a strong recommendation for the general population in all indoor settings at all times to the use of CDC Community Levels to help inform masking recommendations, which the department said is consistent with the Aug. 11th Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
The new changes go into effect on Friday, Sept. 23.
Under the new recommendations, masks will become optional in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, emergency shelters, and cooling centers when community spread is low.
In a press release, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said “this shift in masking is consistent with California's SMARTER Plan and gives Californians the information they should consider when deciding when to wear a mask, including the rate of spread in the community and personal risk.”
According to the department, masking is required in healthcare and long-term care settings regardless of vaccination status. The department urged individuals at higher risk for severe illness to take extra COVID-19 precautions.
According to the CDC, San Diego County remains in the low community transmission category. When the COVID-19 community level is low, people can wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by their own personal level of risk.
Medium community spread calls for the region to consider wearing a mask in indoor public places. Ensure your mask provides the best fit and filtration, such as respirators like N95, KN95, and KN94 are best.
Wearing a mask is recommended for indoor public places when the community spread is high. The new recommendations ask the public to ensure your mask provides the best fit and filtration during high levels of community transmission.
“Vaccination continues to remain the ultimate exit strategy out of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the percentage of Californians fully vaccinated and boosted continues to increase, we continue to have areas of the state where vaccine coverage is low, putting individuals and communities at greater risk for COVID-19. As a state, we need to remain vigilant,” the department wrote in a statement.