The State of California is set to end the universal indoor mask mandate it put into place in mid-December as the highly transmissible Omicron variant began wreaking havoc on case counts through January. Marin County Public Health officials are following suit, though students in Marin schools will likely be required to wear masks at least through March 31, according to the Marin IJ.
The most recent mask mandate required Californians to cover their faces in indoor public settings, and that requirement will remain in place for the unvaccinated, state officials said. More than 91% of eligible Marin residents and 88% of the total population are fully vaccinated, according to the most recent data.
“Omicron has loosened its hold on California, vaccines for children under 5 are around the corner, and access to COVID-19 treatments is improving,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the state’s director of public heath. “With things moving in the right direction, we are making responsible modifications to COVID-19 prevention measures, while also continuing to develop a longer-term action plan for the state.”
Since California’s omicron surge peak last month, the state has seen case rates fall 65%. But case rates remain high, CDPH officials said. Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin County’s deputy public health officer, told the Marin IJ that while Marin residents will soon no longer be legally required to wear masks in indoor public settings, state and federal health officials are still recommending that people do so.
Mark Ghaly, the secretary of California Health and Human Services Agency, encouraged unvaccinated people to get inoculated and others to get booster shots if they haven’t already received one to either prevent or lessen the impact of an infection. He said the vaccines and therapeutics to treat COVID-19 are all part of an approach largely absent a year ago and there is no discussion of further restrictions.