As decisions to vaccinate and wear face coverings in public indoor and outdoor crowded settings drive down COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations, health officers for two rural Northern California counties that require face coverings in public spaces today reached consensus on criteria to lift those health orders.
All the health officers across the rural Northern California counties continue to work together to protect public health with a consistent regional approach, and to plan for the next phase of response and recovery to COVID-19 as this current wave of the pandemic ebbs.
On Monday, Nov. 8, Del Norte and Humboldt counties will lift the outdoor masking requirements. Additionally, the two counties will lift the indoor masking requirement in public spaces not subject to state or federal masking rules when all the following occur:
- Consistently low and stable COVID-19 cases by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data tracker
- Consistently low and stable hospital impact of respiratory viruses including COVID-19
- Improved community protection with vaccination.
Both health departments issued the masking requirements for their respective jurisdictions in August following a summer surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that were the worst yet for the rural Northern California region.
But now with regional data showing the surge is receding, and with vaccination rates increasing across the region, health officials in these counties are offering guidelines to inform the public when they can expect local masking orders to be removed.
Masks and vaccination continue to be the best protections against COVID-19, and these principles support the evidence and science used to make important public health policy decisions.
Del Norte County’s health officer Dr. Aaron Stutz said, “It is no accident that transmission has slowed in the rural north of our state. Public health interventions, including masking, are working. Our health orders, COVID-19 vaccination, as well as outreach and education are all added layers of protection and have resulted in saved lives. Our communities all worked together to lessen the impact of this deadly Delta surge and will continue to work together as we enter recovery.”
Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman agreed, “Vaccination is the best way to protect our communities,” he said. “We will continually evaluate our progress on vaccination as those numbers help us decide when it will be safe to lift the masking orders.”
California’s health guidance for the use of face coverings will remain in effect after local masking requirements are lifted, meaning that people who are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 must continue to wear masks in businesses and indoor public spaces.
Read the Order of the Humboldt County Health Officer for the Wearing of Face Coverings in Workplaces and Indoor Public Settings.
The state also requires face coverings for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in health care facilities, on public transit and in adult and senior care facilities. California’s masking guidelines in K-12 schools would also not be affected by changes to local health orders.
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