Counties wait as California studies new CDC mask guidance

Coronavirus

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It’s not clear when and whether California might adopt new health guidelines after the federal government said fully vaccinated people can quit wearing face coverings and social distancing in most situations. 

California’s Department of Public Health says it is studying new guidance announced Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A meeting between Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration and state health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly was expected later Friday afternoon.

San Diego County officials said on Thursday that they were keeping a close eye on the California Department of Public Health for any changes to state mandates.

“As more people are vaccinated and case counts decrease, it is natural for some of the regulations to loosen, but that is not a green light to be reckless,” San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said. “Situational awareness is important. In San Diego County, we are working with the state and assessing if the CDC guidance will change our posture on masking.”

San Francisco and Riverside have also said they expect updated guidance from the state.

California is on track to reopen its economy broadly next month, signaling an end to most pandemic restrictions. Newsom said in early April that the entire state would move into a new phase on June 15, allowing for everyday activities and businesses to reopen, if vaccine supply is sufficient for residents 16 years and older and hospitalization rates are stable and low.

The new CDC guidelines for wearing masks come as California begins its push to vaccinate kids ages 12 and older. Vaccinations for the age group began in San Diego County on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, county health officials said a total of 1,298,773 people, or 64.4% of the county’s goal, were fully vaccinated. The percentages were expected to to change significantly when the 12-15 age group is added to county data this week.

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