California announces extension of indoor mask order

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The state of California announced Tuesday the indoor mask order will remain in effect through Feb. 15 as COVID-19 cases increase amid an omicron surge.

The order went into effect Dec. 15 amid a surge in cases and was originally set to expire Jan. 15. It requires that all residents across the state — regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status — wear masks indoors.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services, said the state will “look at the total COVID picture” and “the total burden on our hospitals” to determine when to lift the order. 

Ghaly cited a surge in cases and an uptick in hospitalizations as the reason for the extension of the order, but noted that “today’s situation is better in many ways and puts us in a place where we can manage the disease burden that we weren’t able to do a year ago.”

“At the moment, we are really happy to have an expanded tool kit, and we’re not discussing business closures or closures of other sectors of our economy and schools, etc.,” he added.


Ghaly said that as of Tuesday, approximately 51,000 total people are hospitalized in California for a wide range of conditions, with about 8,000 of those being COVID patients. At this time last year, the patient total was about 53,000, he said.

The state’s top health official encouraged people to get boosted and noted that a booster shot can provide extra protection from the virus as soon as three days after receiving it. 

“It’s not too late to get boosted,” Ghaly said. “If you get your booster today, that protection turns on very quickly.”

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