California will continue its mask mandate until the economy fully reopens in June, the state’s health and human services secretary says.
The announcement May 17 by Dr. Mark Ghaly came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 13 released new guidelines for the fully vaccinated. The CDC said masks and social distancing are no longer necessary for those who are inoculated against COVID-19.
However, the new rules don’t apply to California quite yet, Ghaly said.
“On June 15, California plans to implement the CDC’s guidelines around masking to allow fully vaccinated Californians to go without a mask in most indoor settings,” Ghaly said in a May 17 statement.
While California is waiting to implement the CDC’s guidelines, some grocery stores in Orange County have extended its guidelines to shoppers.
Grocery chains Trader Joe’s, Wal-Mart, and Costco have lifted mask mandates for vaccinated customers, while other stores such as Ralph’s are waiting until June 15.
The California Department of Industrial relations didn’t comment on certain grocery stores not requiring masks for vaccinated shoppers but told The Epoch Times that the emergency temporary standards to prevent COVID-19 are still in effect.
As California prepares to reopen in June, Ghaly urged residents to get vaccinated to ensure infections and hospitalization rates remain low.
Orange County’s large-scale vaccination sites are preparing to close June 6, as the county is shifting its vaccination efforts to accessible mobile sites.
“We already offer a pretty robust mobile network, but our plan is to even amplify that and make it more robust, doubling the number of neighborhood clinics or mobile clinics that we’ve been doing and offering that as another conduit, or offering for individuals to get vaccinated closer to where they live or work,” Orange County Health Care Agency’s Margaret Bredehoft said on May 6.
As of May 10, minors aged 12 to 15 are permitted to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a county site offering the Pfizer vaccine.
Orange County Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau said, “With vaccine supply more widely available in OC, we want parents and legal guardians to know that they have a variety of options to choose from when deciding where to vaccinate their eligible child.”
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she understood the state’s newly announced decision to wait until June 15 to lift the mask mandate. The June date is when state officials are expected to lift most virus-related restrictions if current positive trends continue.
“I think every state has to decide whatever’s appropriate for them,” Bartlett said. “In certain parts of the country, they’re having issues getting their people vaccinated, whereas in other parts of the country like California, we’re doing much better statewide. But out of an abundance of caution, especially with all of the variants swirling around, that’s probably why we want to wait another month.”
Bartlett said as more social distancing restrictions are relaxed, it makes sense to see the impact on the rate of infections.
“The state is watching what is happening as counties are opening up more of their economy,” she said. “That may give an indication what could happen on June 15 when we open things up statewide and we’re out of the tier methodology.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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