Masks are back on in California

Ritu Jha-

The residents of California are now requested to wear masks indoors in public places regardless of vaccination status, said the Californian Public Health Department (CDPH) on Wednesday, December 15.

The renewed masking requirement follows a 47% increase in COVID-19 case rates since the Thanksgiving holiday and the arrival of the new variant, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health secretary.

As of now, this mandate will be effective through January 15 and is specific to public settings, not private gatherings. Nevertheless, health officials recommend people get tested ahead of holiday gatherings and consider better ventilation by opening windows or convening outdoors when possible.

The state will also toughen the restriction for unvaccinated people who attend indoor “mega-events” of 1,000 people or more, requiring them to receive a negative COVID test within one day of the event if it’s a rapid antigen test or within two days for a PCR test. The current rules require a test within 72 hours of the event.

State officials will also recommend, but not required, that people who travel to California or return to the state after traveling be tested for COVID within three to five days.

In a response to indica , about the regulation on vaccination, the CDPH said that the emergence of the Omicron variant “emphasizes the importance of getting a vaccine, booster, and taking prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.”

The health department also noted that, as of December 12, 2021, 24 confirmed cases associated with the Omicron variant have been reported to the state. This number will be updated weekly with the other variants California is currently monitoring on the CDPH Tracking Variants webpage.

When asked about the effectiveness of the booster and many citizens do not trust that it actually works, the CDPH insisted that vaccines remain highly effective against Delta and early indicators show that they are expected to help reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death in those infected with the Omicron variant.

The state department added that “it is especially important for those who are fully vaccinated to get booster once eligible. Waning immunity, particularly in older adults and those with compromised immune systems, puts these individuals at greater risk.”

“Some parts of the state are seeing COVID-19 related hospitalizations rise faster than others. This is driven by pockets of unvaccinated Californians infected with Delta, who are who 12X more likely to be hospitalized and 13X more likely to die from COVID-19.”

California first required all residents to wear masks June 18 of 2020, three months after the state’s original stay-at-home order. It was in place for nearly a year, expiring on June 15, 2021, when the state officially reopened, ending the stay-at-home order and the color-coded tier system. But as cases are steadily climbing once again following the reopening, many counties beginning to mandate wearing masks to play it safe.

CDPH also issued a new travel advisory effective immediately to recommend that all travelers arriving in California test for COVID-19 within three to five days after arrival, regardless of their vaccination status.

“Our collective actions can save lives this holiday season. We are already seeing a higher level of transmission this winter and it is important to act now to prevent overwhelming our busy hospitals so we can provide quality health care to all Californians.”

“All Californians should get vaccinated and receive their booster. Getting your whole family up to date on vaccination is the most important action you can take to get through the pandemic and to protect yourself from serious impacts from the virus and its variants. Testing and masking remain important tools in slowing the spread,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer.