SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians will have to wear masks indoors statewide for yet another month.
California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Wednesday that the previous month-long indoor mask mandate was extended.
It was previously supposed to end on Jan. 15, but as Dr. Ghaly said Wednesday the new expiration date is Feb. 15.
California residents, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask in all indoor, public settings.
The state’s health director said Wednesday that additional restrictions are not being considered.
California’s confirmed cases have shot up nearly 500% in the last two weeks and hospitalizations have doubled since Christmas to more than 8,000. State models forecast hospitalizations could top 20,000 by early next month, a level nearly as high as last January, when California experienced its deadliest surge.
The fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19 is sidelining exposed or infected health care workers, leading to staffing shortages.
Other Coronavirus News
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing criticism for failing to deliver on his promise to provide rapid, at-home tests to all of the state's students and school staff before classrooms reopened after winter break.
Millions of test kits went out to families before and during winter break but millions more did not. That has raised concerns about school safety now that COVID-19 cases are soaring. California schools chief Tony Thurmond says it's disappointing that the tests have not reached all the places they need to and the state must speed things up.
Meanwhile, all Americans 16 and older are encouraged to get a booster, which health authorities say offer the best chance at avoiding the highly contagious omicron variant. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized an extra Pfizer shot for kids ages 12 to 15 as well -- but that wasn’t the final hurdle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes recommendations for vaccinations and on Wednesday, its advisers voted that a booster was safe for the younger teens and should be offered to them once enough time — five months — has passed since their last shot. And while the CDC last month opened boosters as an option for 16- and 17-year-olds, the panel said that recommendation should be strengthened to say they “should” get the extra dose.