The State of California’s indoor masking mandate lapsed four days ago.
The Center for Disease Control said this last Wednesday as omicron-related cases have declined, guidance on masking will be updated in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, in Mendocino County, the county’s Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren has told residents indoor masking mandates will remain out of concern for the county’s hospital capacity being impacted.
Only three California counties have maintained the indoor masking mandate: Los Angeles, Santa Clara, and Mendocino Counties.
Mendocino County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Coren told residents, “We will continue to assess the COVID-19 situation as it evolves and will reevaluate the need for continued universal masking orders on March 15, 2022, based on community transmission and burden to the local hospital system.”
Similar to Mendocino County’s reasoning Santa Clara County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody told reporters her reason behind maintaining the indoor masking mandates is informed by the high number of infections associated with omicron and local hospitals running out of ICU beds.
Los Angeles County’s Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer recognized that her county was seeing a drop in test positivity rate, case numbers, and hospitalizations, but maintained the mandate concerned about omicron’s continued high transmission. She specified that Los Angeles County will keep the mandate until there have been two straight weeks at or below a moderate rate, defined as 50 new cases per 100,000 people. Of the three counties to maintain the indoor mask mandate, Los Angeles is the only one to specify a metric that when met would inform the rescinding of indoor masking.
Mendocino County’s COVID-19 dashboard provides the public at large with the latest accounting of hospitalization due to the virus, as well as those seeking COVID-19 treatment in local intensive care units.
Taking a closer look at that data since Dr. Coren cited hospitalization as the reason for maintaining indoor masking mandates, it is clear that hospitalizations from the recent omicron wave are on a downward trend.
He announced his intentions to maintain the indoor masking mandate on February 11 in our interview with him. Dr. Coren’s initial concern of hospitalizations increasing was realized when three days later total hospitalizations had jumped 33.3%.
But, in the last five days, each Mendocino County COVID-19 Dashboard update has seen a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalization for a combined decrease of 61%.
Dr. Coren did not identify a specific threshold that must be met before indoor masking mandates were rescinded, but he told us via email on Thursday, “I am definitely watching numbers. Will re-evaluate universal indoor masks by 3-15, as promised.”
Considering the timeline laid out by both CDC and Dr. Coren, and the local hospital numbers on a downward trend, Mendocino County could very well see the metrics laid out by Dr. Coren in the coming weeks.