Put Your Masks Back on at Gyms and Offices — California Reimposes Broad Mask Mandate Until Mid-January

California is reimposing a broad indoor mask mandate this week as the Omicron variant continues to spread, holiday pools, COVID cases and hospitalizations multiplying across the state.

California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Galley held a press conference Monday to address the state’s overall coronavirus response, and he was stunned — if not who – which Surprise – Announcing that the state is reimposing internal masking rules from Wednesday, December 15th through January 15th.

While there is early evidence that the highly contagious Omicron variant causes less severe disease than Delta and the other variants, its potential to spread among fully vaccinated people remains clear. Dr. Anthony Fauci said the booster doses provide additional protection against the variant, but we know locally that several booster Kaiser employees have contracted omicron at a wedding in Wisconsin in recent weeks.

Ghaly noted a 47% increase in new COVID cases statewide since Thanksgiving, and mask rules are aimed at curbing another winter wave. Mask mandates have been lifted in many counties across the state, but some of the largest metropolitan counties have mostly brought them back since the state lifted their mandate on June 15. The state continued to require masks on public transportation, in taxis, in all health care settings and at airports.

Hospitalizations in the Bay Area have risen slightly since Thanksgiving, from 360 on December 1 to 415 as of Sunday — an increase of 15%. Statewide, hospital admissions rose 9% in the same two-week period.

In San Francisco, everyone has been mostly masked indoors since mask rules were reimposed in August. However, as of mid-October, SF lifted mask-wearing rules for gyms and offices where everyone was fully vaccinated — and mask rules in bars and restaurants were loosely enforced, at best.

Most other Bay Area counties, as well as San Francisco, have said that the indoor concealment will continue until the county shows more than 80% of its population vaccinations, is hospitalized or has decreased, and its case numbers are in yellow at the CDC. Class for at least three consecutive weeks. The only county to reach those metrics so far, albeit for a short time, has been Marin County, which has also seen an increase in the number of cases over the past two weeks.

Solano County never reimposed the mask mandate when other local counties did, but the cities of Vallejo and Benicia issued their own.

Nearly 50% of the state’s population has been living without the mask rules in many public places in the past six months.

The order, which takes effect on Wednesday, also affects events with 1,000 or more people participating in counties that have not imposed vaccine mandates for such events. Attendance at these events will require either proof of vaccination, or evidence of a recent negative COVID test – 24 hours for an antigen test, or 48 hours for a PCR test.

He said Ghaly did not provide any details regarding law enforcement, but encouraged provinces and businesses to enforce the rules themselves in an effort to “save lives.”

TOP PHOTO: California Governor Gavin Newsom (right) looks at California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Galley as he speaks during a news conference after touring the immunization clinic at City College San Francisco on April 6, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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