SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — California's mask mandate for fully vaccinated people comes to an end Wednesday, given that COVID-19 omicron cases and hospitalizations have significantly decreased across the state, including San Diego County, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
But it's not masks-off for everyone as state guidelines say masks are still required for certain indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.
Masks are still required for all:
- Public Transit
- Homeless shelters
- Senior care centers
- Correctional facilities, and daycares
- Schools are requiring masks until the end of the month at the earliest.
"Masks are still important, testing is still important, And of course we are always working to emphasize the safety, the effectiveness and the importance of our vaccines,” said Admirable Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health for department of health and human services.
Health and human services Assistant Secretary for health Admirable Rachel Levine says people shouldn't rush to be mask free while we're still in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are still seeing high rates of hospitalizations and deaths when we look across the United States,” said Levine.
CDPH says well-fitted masks will still be required indoors for people who are not fully vaccinated. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one shot of the Johnson and Johnson immunization.
“People who are not fully vaccinated are more likely to become infected compared to people who have received all the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The vaccines are the best protection there is to prevent people from getting seriously ill, ending in the hospital or, worse, dying.”
During a COVID-19 update on the state’s approach to COVID-19, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health & Human Services Agency (CalHHS) Secretary said a lifting of the mandate is inevitable, saying it is just "a question of when." He expressed confidence that the mandate would be lifted after a Feb. 28 reassessment, barring another sudden spike in virus infection rates and hospitalizations.
"Parents should not hear that we aren't making a move," Ghaly said, insisting the state is only "taking a little more time" to ensure pandemic metrics continue on a downward path.
Ghaly noted that even when the state lifts its requirement for masks in schools, individual counties or school districts could still require them.
WATCH RELATED: CA announces no new guidance on masks in schools | How the San Diego teachers' union is responding. (Feb 14, 2022)