The mask mandate is set to drop on Wednesday in California for vaccinated individuals, though it remains in schools, hospitals, and public transit.
Gov. Gavin Newsom re-implemented the statewide mask mandate amid the rampant Omicron surge that drove the nation’s COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths to record-breaking highs.
Over the past two weeks, San Diego County Health officials reported a gradual decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The most recent figures show the number of cases went below 1,000 Saturday to 933 followed by 787 Sunday.
During a news conference on Monday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, state secretary of health and human services, said that falling trends in the number of new cases and hospitalizations provide confidence that pulling back on the mask mandate makes sense.
Though masks will no longer be required for public schools, Dr. Ghaly said wearing indoor masks especially in crowded locations is a good idea.
“We are still strongly recommending that people wear them in public indoor places,” Dr. Ghaly said.
According to Newsom, the mask mandate remains for public schools in California due to low vaccination rates. About 28 percent in 5 to 11-year-olds received the COVID vaccine compared to over 92 percent of those 18 and up, who have received at least one dose of the shot.
Dr. Mark Ghaly said a lifting of the mandate is inevitable in public schools, saying it is just “a question of when.” He expressed confidence that the mandate would be lifted after that Feb. 28 reassessment, barring another sudden spike in virus infection rates and hospitalizations.
“Based on our data… it’s reasonable that we’re getting to a place where we can relax the statewide masking requirement. We will today not make a change. There will be no change on the masking requirement,” Dr. Ghaly said in part.
“Two weeks from now… we’re gonna look at the information on case rates to confirm what we believe is going to happen.. that case numbers will continue to come down, hospitalizations come down, both adult and pediatric will come down, and we’re watching vaccination rates,”