California deviates from CDC; masks stay on until June 15

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said Californians will remain under mask requirements for another month, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance that said people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can ditch face coverings.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said Monday the state wouldn’t be able to make the change to remove masks immediately. It would “continue the relentless focus to provide vaccines” over a four-week span.

The state’s HHS page reiterates: “California will keep existing mask guidance in place until June 15 when it aims to fully reopen the economy. After that, the state plans to allow fully-vaccinated Californians to go without a mask in most indoor settings.”

Newsom said Friday the state was reviewing its masking protocols but didn’t specifically say he would remove California’s requirement. 

Under the state’s May 3 guidance, vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks outdoors unless in a crowded space. Unvaccinated people must keep masks on any time physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

Nearly every other state, except New Jersey, has removed its mask mandates after the CDC announcement allowing vaccinated people to forego face coverings unless otherwise asked by a private business to keep them on.

Assemblyman Chad Mayes, I-Rancho Mirage, criticized the governor’s office that has so often leaned on public health professionals to guide his decisions. 

“This is like saying, ‘We are going to follow the science, but we are going to wait until June 15 to do so,’ ” he said Monday on Twitter. 

Backing Newsom’s decision to keep the mandate in place was Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the University of California San Francisco’s Department of Medicine.

“I’ve come to believe that new CDC [recommendations] are premature,” Wachter tweeted. “Good call – simply too much virus [and] too many [unvaccinated] folks who won’t (wear) masks for no-mask indoor spaces to be safe now.” 

Many large retail companies such as Walmart and Publix have changed their mask requirements after the change in CDC guidance but will have to maintain them to abide by state and local law in California.

This article was originally posted on California deviates from CDC; masks stay on until June 15

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