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California is attempting to combat rising COVID rates.

Currently, California state guidelines require the use of face masks only while indoors at public transit facilities, medical facilities, schools, and shelters. Unvaccinated people are required to wear a face mask in all indoor public facilities. However, in spite of these measures, COVID-19 cases are still rising in California, prompting local health authorities to tighten restrictions.

Starting tomorrow, December 15, California will be imposing a universal mask mandate, requiring all citizens to wear face masks in all public settings, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated citizens will be required to submit a negative-reading COVID-19 test within one day of all “mega-events,” or gatherings of 1,000 people or more.

“We know people are tired and hungry for normalcy. Frankly, I am too,” state director of health and human services Dr. Mark Ghaly said today. “That said, this is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked. We are proactively putting this tool of universal indoor masking in public settings in place to ensure we get through a time of joy and hope without a darker cloud of concern and despair.”

“We know that we’re entering into a pretty hard time, that we’re staring to see some of these numbers come up pretty quickly in some communities…[Masking] is the common sense thing to do.”

According to Ghaly, California saw a 42% spike in COVID cases since Thanksgiving ended, and local hospitals are seeing case occurrences at a much higher rate than they did this time last year.

“Frankly with Delta and Omicron and the more rapid replication, we are seeing people who — if they do become severely sick — they are becoming sicker sooner. So we don’t have nearly as much room…as we did last year to make adjustments,” Ghaly said.