The California Department of Public Health said Wednesday that even people vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear masks indoors in public places, a shift from its guidance in mid-June that the immunized were protected enough to forego masks.
“The delta variant has caused a sharp increase in hospitalizations and case rates across the state,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “We are recommending masking in indoor public places to slow the spread while we continue efforts to get more Californians vaccinated.”
The announcement came a day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on face coverings, which since mid-May had said that those who had been immunized did not need to wear masks except in public transportation, schools, health care, shelter and correctional facilities.
California adopted that guidance June 15 when the state retired most of its pandemic restrictions on businesses and social gatherings.
The CDC on Tuesday said masks should be worn indoors even by the vaccinated in areas of substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Aragon said Wednesday that more than 90% of California’s population is in such areas. California’s revision does not distinguish between areas of high or low transmission.
Masks are required for unvaccinated people in indoor public settings and businesses including retail stores, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, and state and local government offices serving the public.