SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – A growing number of counties across the state are taking matters into their own hands, either encouraging or requiring masks for everyone indoors.
But Gov. Gavin Newsom is still not ready to say if a statewide mask mandate will return.
“We’ll see. Look, at the end of the day the epidemiology, the spread, the variants make that determination,” Newsom said in response to questions about the possibility of his administration bringing back a statewide mask mandate.
Data shows that as of Tuesday, 61% of the state’s population is vaccinated.
Speaking from a school in Tulare County, where the vaccination rate is below the state average, Newsom noted that’s not the case for all of California.
“We don’t have to have masking if we all got vaccinated,” he said.
COVID-19 cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations continue to climb in California as state officials say the delta variant accounts for already 60% of the cases sequenced in July.
The governor would not say if there’s a certain data point or threshold state leaders are waiting to reach before reinstating restrictions.
“I think we’ll get through this. We’re not looking to do any physical distancing, any social distancing, we’re not looking at closing anything down,” the governor explained.
As Newsom faces a recall election in September fueled in part by his past pandemic-related policies, experts say the decision will have consequences.
“It’s a very slender tight rope that he’s walking,” said Democratic strategist Steven Maviglio.
Maviglio was press secretary for the only other governor to face a recall election in the state, Gray Davis.
He said, on one hand, a mask requirement will irritate a large number of voters, but doing nothing could frustrate those who think more protection is needed.
“His worst-case scenario is having a lot of medical professionals holding press conference saying we need this mandate,” Maviglio told FOX40. “He has always been seen nationwide as on the cutting edge of basing data and science, and actually taking the advice of medical professionals. And if he doesn’t, that puts him in a very awkward spot and one he certainly doesn’t want to be in during the next few weeks.”
The California Department of Public Health says it continues to support those counties that decide to use stricter COVID-19 protocols.