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People pass by a sign asking customers to wear masks in Laguna Beach, California.
SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – California officials say the state is not ready to follow federal leadership and unmask, at least for another month.
The state health director announced Monday that California will require people to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing inland until June 15, when Governor Gavin Newsom already said they will retire. almost all COVID-19 restrictions if cases remain low.
The nation’s most populous state needs more time before it joins many other states and allows fully vaccinated people to skip face coverage and distancing themselves in virtually every situation, officials said.
People and businesses must adapt to change as the state continues its “tireless approach to administering vaccines, particularly in underserved communities and those that were hard hit throughout the pandemic,” he said Monday. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly.
More than a dozen other states, including neighboring Oregon, have already taken note of the loosening of mask guidelines announced last week by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC guidelines say everyone, fully vaccinated or not, should wear masks in crowded indoor locations, such as airplanes, buses, hospitals and prisons.
The changing terrain of advice on the use of masks has confused and frustrated some Californians, who a few weeks ago were told that people who were completely vaccinated do not need to wear masks outdoors unless they are in meetings. crowded.
Rafael Sanchez, 64, of San Diego, called it “a scrambled egg message.” The retiree is completely vaccinated and said he only wears a mask because it is necessary at his favorite bagel shop and on the bus to get there.
Most of California’s 58 counties, including the giant Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego, are meeting the state’s masking schedule.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said the county will use the extra month to completely vaccinate more people.
“More than half of our adult population remains vulnerable,” he said.
Keith Shapiro, a 45-year-old vacant film editor in Los Angeles, said he now walks his dog, Dexter, unmasked outside without worrying, but who still keeps the masks on hand for indoor situations.
“When I go to a grocery store, I feel like I should still wear a mask if I really need it or not,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that restrictive.”
Her 12-year-old son was shot Monday, but he wears a mask at school in person twice a week.
Both the CDC and the state plan to keep the mask requirement in place for the rest of the calendar year.
Satchita Melina, a San Francisco psychotherapist, said she agrees with the state’s decision to cover masks, though “she can’t wait to go to a gym, a yoga class or a dance class.” without covering his face.
“If it’s going to protect people and if it’s for safety, what’s another month right now?” she said. “I can do it.”
The California Nurses Association said the state was cautious and noted that more than 61,000 residents have died from COVID-10 and that hundreds of nurses have succumbed across the country.
“We need to protect the lives of our patients, the lives of nurses and other health care workers and essential workers across the country,” CNA President Sandy Reding said in a statement. “We know the best way to do that is with multiple layers of protection, which include masking and social distancing and isolation after exposure.”
Companies are expected to meet state guidelines, Ghaly said, but some business group leaders feared the different federal and state mask requirements would sow confusion.
John Kabateck, director of the California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, is already hard pressed for business owners to play “mask blow.”
“We hope they are not vulnerable to sanctions and scrutiny from state regulators or plaintiffs’ attorneys because they try to make sense of this maze, ”he said.
But Kabateck said he was generally in favor of the state decision.
“If wearing masks for a while longer is a bit of prevention that will allow moms and octopuses to reopen doors and get people back to work, it’s a step in the right direction,” she said.
San Diego hair stylist Emily Follweiler, 27, was relieved that masks will be needed indoors for longer.
“I think people should keep wearing it and not have to rely on a system of honor,” he said. “I don’t know how much more you would know if someone is completely vaccinated.”
After becoming the epicenter of the virus in the United States earlier this year, California has experienced a precipitous decline. The positivity rate of state infections among people tested has fallen below 1%, officials said Monday, and more than 34.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered as the state ‘is approaching the total reopening of its economy.
Newsom, like the Biden administration, has been pressured to ease mask restrictions as coronavirus cases dwindle across the country. But the Democratic governor is facing a withdrawal election this fall, largely motivated by frustration over his treatment of the pandemic.
Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, businessman John Cox and reality show personality and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, all Republicans who wanted to replace Newsom, criticized the delay in removing the mask requirements.
Forty-seven counties, representing the majority of the state’s population, are in the orange and yellow levels of California’s COVID-19 system, which are the least restrictive. Orange County could move to the yellow level on Wednesday, which would increase customer capacity for gyms and other businesses and allow bars to reopen indoors.
Eleven counties remain at the second highest red level, where the risk of COVID-19 is considered substantial, but they account for only about 11% of the population.
Levels are based on cases, positivity rate, and vaccination figures. Newsom has indicated that California will eliminate the system in mid-June.
Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Stefanie Dazio contributed from Los Angeles and Julie Watson from San Diego.