As the number of COVID-19 cases rises due to the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron strain, California health officials have extended the indoor mask rule at public facilities until Feb. 15.
The requirement, which compels masks to be worn regardless of immunization status, began on December 15, 2021, and was supposed to end on January 15, 2022. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's secretary of health and human services, announced the extension on Wednesday. It is still unclear whether the mandate will be lifted in February.
"At that point, we'll re-evaluate the situation across California, our communities, and our health service delivery settings to make sure we're taking the most up-to-date information into account to see if we need another extension or if we're ready to lift that requirement across the state," Ghaly told reporters. "Omicron has arrived, and it has arrived now."
On Jan. 4, California reported 165,889 new cases, with a seven-day moving average of 51,971—a more than 1,000 percent rise from 4,422 infections on Nov. 26 when the World Health Organization recognized the Omicron as a variety of concern. On Jan. 4, the total number of cases per 100,000 was 14,436, up from 12,769 on Nov. 26.
6 Jan 2022