SAN DIEGO – San Diego County’s indoor mask requirement will expire next week when the state’s mandate ends with officials Wednesday citing recent decreases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The mandate was instituted by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration in mid-December amid a sharp increase in COVID infections brought on in large part due to the highly contagious omicron variant. But with cases declining nationwide, Newsom and other governors across the country have been gradually rolling back mask requirements in recent weeks.
Although the requirement ends statewide Feb. 15, masks will still be mandated in area K-12 schools and in select settings, including public transit, health care facilities and detention centers, among others.
In a statement Wednesday, San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten urged residents to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“People who are not fully vaccinated are more likely to become infected compared to people who have received all the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster,” Wooten said. “The vaccines are the best protection there is to prevent people from getting seriously ill, ending in the hospital or, worse, dying.”
This week, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to ask the state’s Department of Public Health for a “safe and responsible path” to phase out mask requirements in schools. The plan, introduced by Chairman Nathan Fletcher, cites the availability of the vaccine for children which Fletcher said, “put us in a position to begin phasing out those restrictions.”
Several school districts reached by FOX 5 this week said they are following state guidance on masking.
“The State of California’s indoor mask requirement for schools is separate from the state’s indoor mask mandate that expires on February 15,” Grossmont Union High School District spokesman Collin McGlashen said. “The state’s indoor mask requirement for schools remains in effect.”
Miquel Jacobs, a spokesman for the San Dieguito Union High School District, said they’re also planning to keep following California Department of Public Health guidance.