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California re-imposes masks in indoor public spaces to slow the spread of COVID-19

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Updated at 15:39

California will require the universal wearing of indoor masks in public spaces for a month starting Wednesday in a bid to stem an increase in COVID-19 infections linked to the holidays. The new mask warrant comes as the omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in several counties in California, including in Yolo County.

Under these new rules, the universal mask requirements will be in effect from December 15 to January 15.

State health officials have also announced other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including testing requirements and recommendations for large events and travel. Unvaccinated people attending events involving 1,000 or more people will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test – an antigen test done within 24 hours or a PCR test done within 48 hours. Additionally, the state recommends travelers get tested within 3 to 5 days. after returning to California.

“Today we still have deaths, due to a pandemic which in many ways has a solid solution with vaccinations,” said Secretary of State for Health and Human Services Dr Mark Ghaly. “So we have work to do. “

He added, “We can do this for a month. It’s only been a month.

The state has seen a 47% increase in the daily case rate since Thanksgiving with 14 new cases per 100,000 population, according to Ghaly. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 75,000 people in California and 800,000 nationwide have died from COVID-19.

However, the state has so far not seen a further increase in the number of new cases or hospitalizations since that caused by the delta variant this summer. The state’s average seven-day test positivity rate is 2.2% as of Dec.12, but hospitalizations have increased 14% since Thanksgiving, according to the State Department of Public Health.

Brad Pollock, chairman of the public health sciences department at UC Davis School of Medicine, said he was not surprised by the new rules “given the trend towards colder weather, more indoor activities and also family reunions ”.

While California as a whole does not experience a spike in new cases and hospitalizations as bad as it did last winter, Pollock said the new measures are likely aimed at stemming the spread.

“Circumstances on the pitch change,” he said, so health experts “are trying to see where the puck is going rather than where it has been. “

Sacramento County saw a slight increase in the number of new cases and hospitalizations, but nothing that compares to the increase last year or even this summer.

California first requires all residents to wear masks on June 18, 2020, three months after the initial state stay-at-home order. He had been in place for almost a year, expiring on June 15, 2021, when the state officially reopened, ending the stay-at-home order and color-coded tier system.

But as cases increased after the reopening, many counties began to require masks in some cases. Sacramento County issued an order on July 30 require all people to wear masks in indoor public spaces, which remains in effect. Some counties in the Bay Area have started to relax the masking rules in October.

California again requires indoor masks at K-12 schools, although some school districts also require them outside at recess, including the City of Sacramento Unified School District.

Dr Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine at UC San Francisco who co-wrote a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on creating a plan to let children unmask themselves, said parents need to know when their children are can resume “a normal life … which would include unmasking in schools.”

Gandhi said children develop a fear of wearing masks that “signal children that they are not safe. This has had serious downstream effects for children with mental health problems. “

She added that the state does not have the same threat it did before vaccines were widely available, so the approach to the pandemic should not be the same as before.

“I think the risk has evolved with this incredible technology – this incredible scientific feat of vaccination,” Gandhi said.

As of December 12, 77.7% of eligible Californians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Masks have always been mandatory for unvaccinated people in indoor public spaces in California, but this new mandate extends to those who have been vaccinated as well.

Note: This story has been updated to use the state’s seven-day test positivity rate instead of the most recent daily rate.


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