California · COVID-19

Newsom institutes universal indoor mask mandate ahead of holidays

Masks will once again be required to be worn indoors throughout California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom re-instituted the state’s indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, from Wednesday, Dec. 15 to Jan. 15 as COVID-19 cases have risen in the state recently along with further fears of the omicron variant. 

The relaunched mask mandate begins six months to the day after Newsom hosted a rally at Universal Studios Hollywood to celebrate the state’s “full reopening.”

The daily per capita case rate has risen 47 percent over the past two weeks, jumping from 9.6 cases per 100,000 people to 14 cases per 100,000 people. 

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced the new policy during a health briefing Monday. 

“We know people are tired and hungry for normalcy,” Ghaly said. “Frankly, I am too. That said, this is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and can work.” 

Along with the mask mandate, California is also regulating events of more than 1,000 people in attendance. Anyone who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be forced to either show results of a negative antigen test within 24 hours or a negative PCR test within 48 hours. 

“We know that there’s going to be people who don’t necessarily agree with this, who are tired, who aren’t going to mask,” Ghaly said. “We hope that those are few and far between, that most people see the purpose of doing this over the next month as something to protect them and their communities during a very rough time.” 

Monday’s decision comes six months after the state lifted its mask mandate for vaccinated individuals on June 15. 

While the winter months last year proved to be a tough time for Central Valley hospitals as they were overrun with COVID-19 patients, Fresno County currently has 183 hospitalized patients, 44 of which are in the ICU. 

In September, Fresno County had over 400 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, while last January the all-time peak was recorded at 659.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.