Order to take effect Wednesday through Jan. 15
By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — California will implement a statewide universal masking mandate starting Wednesday as COVID-19 case rates remain on the rise in various regions across the state, Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly announced Monday.
The indoor mask mandate will apply statewide and remain in effect until Jan. 15, Dr. Ghaly told reporters Monday.
Since Thanksgiving, the state has seen a 47% increase in the case rate, up from roughly 9.6 cases per 100,000 daily to more than 14 cases per 100,000 per day, Dr. Ghaly said.
“We are proactively putting this tool of universal indoor masking in public settings in place to ensure we get through a time of joy and hope without a darker cloud of concern and despair,” Dr. Ghaly said. “Californians have done this before, and we, of course, believe we can do it again.”
In addition to universal indoor masking, starting Wednesday, the state will require attendees of mega-events of more than 1,000 people to show proof of vaccination or submit a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours if its an antigen test and 48 hours if it is a PCR test, lowering the previous 72-hour interval.
The state’s decision comes less than two weeks after the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department decided to extend its own indoor mask mandate for another 30 days.
As of Nov. 26, Santa Barbara County had a case rate of seven cases per 100,000 and a test positivity of 4%, according to the Public Health Department.
In early December, the department explained that in order for the county’s mask mandate to be lifted, the county case rate should be seven or fewer cases per 100,000 for three consecutive weeks.
Madison Hirneisen covers California for The Center Square.
News-Press Managing Editor Dave Mason contributed to this report.