SAN DIEGO – Hold onto those masks, San Diego.
County public health officials Wednesday said they’re now recommending everyone wear facial coverings in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status. It appears to be roughly the same policy officials have had for about a month, coming after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending mask-wearing indoors for all in areas experiencing “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 transmission.
Falling short of a mandate, the move also is similar in scope to the state’s guidance on masking for indoor public places such as retail stores, restaurants and government offices.
Masks are required in California for all in select settings — public transit, indoors at K-12 schools and childcare centers and in health care facilities, among others — and remain a requirement indoors for unvaccinated residents with few exemptions.
The indoor mask mandate in schools has rankled some local parents, leading to an ongoing series of rallies — and a recent San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting that got heated — in a bid for so-called “mask choice” in the classroom.
In a statement, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said that indoor masking “adds an additional layer of protection and reduces the risk of COVID-19.”
“If you are not fully vaccinated yet, I urge you to get your shot now, so we can slow the spread of this more contagious strain of COVID-19,” Wooten said.
Officials reported 1,327 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, bringing the region’s pandemic total to more than 327,000. Twenty-five new deaths were reported since the county’s last tally released Aug. 18, including 15 men and 10 women who died between Aug. 11 and Aug. 22.
The county’s case rate per 100,000 residents is 35.2 with the majority of cases recorded in residents who are not fully vaccinated. San Diego County’s 14-day rolling percentage of positive cases is at 7.3%.
As of Wednesday, more than 4.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the county with roughly 85% of county residents ages 12 and older receiving at least one shot.