The State of California is reimposing an indoor mask mandate that will apply to everyone, whether vaccinated or not.
"This is a critical time," Ghaly said Monday. "We have a tool we know has worked and can work. We are proactively putting this tool of universal indoor masking in place to ensure we get through a time of joy and hope without a darker cloud of despair. Californians have done this before, and we believe we can do it again."
The updated guidance stands in stark contrast to the approach of states such as Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis resisted imposing mask mandated and restrictions during a surge of cases in his state earlier this year. He has suggested that his focus on vaccinating people has worked.
"Even among a lot of positive tests, you are seeing much less mortality that you did year-over-year," DeSantis said in August when asked about imposing new mandates.
The new mask mandate is set to take effect on Wednesday and will expire on Jan. 15. It will apply to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
The news comes as the omicron variant has officially spread to the state, with California reporting 18 cases of the variant as of Friday.
More restrictions are being introduced for those who are unvaccinated, requiring such individuals to provide proof of a negative antigen test within 24 hours or a negative PCR test within 48 hours of attending gatherings with more than 1,000 in attendancem such as concerts or sporting events. The previous window for a negative test was 72 hours.
The move will make California one of only nine states imposing an indoor masking requirement for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, joining Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii, New Mexico, Illinois, New York, and Connecticut. Washington D.C. also has such a mask mandate in place.
Cases of COVID-19 in California have increased 47% since Thanksgiving, moving from 9.6 cases per 100,000 people per day to 14 cases per 100,000 people per day.
Currently, 64.8% of the state's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.