SAN DIEGO – San Diego County public health officials on Thursday said they will continue following state guidance on masking despite Los Angeles County reimplementing its indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.
The new masking order in L.A. County, which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, comes amid rising COVID-19 case numbers — up 83% from a week ago — as well as concerns over the delta variant, officials said Thursday.
The rapidly spreading variant likely could become the dominant strain of the virus in San Diego County by August and officials continue to call on the public to get vaccinated.
“The County of San Diego reminds the public it will continue to following the California Department of Health guidance on masking,” the county said in series of tweets Thursday, “and urges those who are unvaccinated to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19.”
Vaccinated residents are not required to wear masks in California except for in limited settings, according to the state. Those settings include public transit, health care facilities, indoors at K-12 schools and child care centers and state and local correctional facilities and detention centers.
Recently, the state released new guidance requiring students and staff to wear masks indoors when they return to the classroom this year. It came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines, saying masks aren’t necessary for vaccinated teachers and students.
But the state later appeared to backtrack on the guidance, leaving it up to school districts to determine how best to handle mask rule enforcement in the classroom.
One local district, the Alpine Union School District, said if given the choice, it plans to make masks optional for students.
“Given the ever-changing nature of this pandemic, we once again expect the roller coaster of changing health protocols, requirements, and recommendations,” the district said Thursday. “Based on current conditions, if districts are allowed discretion over mask-wearing during the 2021-22 school year, AUSD will make masks optional for students.
“We, of course, will continually analyze conditions and respond accordingly and make changes to ensure that our students and staff are safe.”
This week, the advocacy group Let Them Breathe told FOX 5 it is preparing to file a lawsuit against the state over its indoor mask mandate in schools.
“They’ve been through so much,” said Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Breathe, “and it’s not just that we want to be able to see their smiles it’s that if we continue to mask them like this there may not be any smiles left.”
On Thursday, San Diego reported 428 new COVID-19 cases, the eighth consecutive day officials have reported 200 or more infections.
Close to 4.15 million vaccine doses have been administered, and more than 2.22 million or 79.5% of county residents 12 and older are partially vaccinated. Close to 1.92 million or 68.4% of that age cohort are fully vaccinated. San Diego County’s case rate is 3.7 cases per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday’s report, up from 2.5% last week.
A total of 7,097 tests were reported to the county, and the percentage of new positive cases was 3.9%. The 14-day rolling percentage of positive cases among tests is 2.9%, nearly double last week’s 1.5%.