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California State Mandates Mask Amidst Rising Cases

California has ordered a statewide mask mandate for indoor public venues to take effect on Wednesday, in response to rising coronavirus incidence and mounting concerns about the Omicron form. Coronavirus case rates in have increased by about 50% in the last 212 weeks, while COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by nearly 15%. County health experts across the state believe they are seeing the start of a coronavirus outbreak this winter.

California is ranked as having a high level of coronavirus transmission by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the worst category on the federal agency’s four-tier scale. “This is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and can work,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California health and human services secretary, said Monday.

San Diego and Orange counties, the Inland Empire, and parts of the Central Valley and rural Northern California would be affected by the order, which will affect about half of the state’s population. The statewide indoor mask rule will be in effect for one month, ending on January 15. A number of counties, including Los Angeles, Ventura, and Sacramento, as well as the majority of the San Francisco Bay Area, have already enacted their own indoor mask laws, which went into effect this summer and have no set end date.

Travelers returning to or visiting the state should get tested within three to five days after their arrival, according to the state. California declaration came on the same day that New York passed its own statewide mask law in indoor public locations, with the exception of places where everyone must be vaccinated. Indoor mask mandates have also been reordered by British officials.

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