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California starts new four-week indoor mask mandate

California starts new four-week indoor mask mandate
Members of the San Francisco Boys Chorus with masks greet traffic in San Francisco on June 15. California on Wednesday started a new four-week indoor mask mandate for most residents. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 15 (UPI) -- California began a new four-week indoor mask mandate on Wednesday, requiring everyone in the state to cover their faces regardless of vaccination status.

The new order, which will run through Jan. 15, affects about half of the state's population. Los Angeles County, Ventura County and most of the San Francisco Bay Area were already under their own indoor mask mandates that started in the summer. Those mandates don't have a specific end date.

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"To ensure that we collectively protect the health and well-being of all Californians; keep schools open for in-person instruction; and allow California's economy to remain open and thrive, the California Department of Public Health is requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public settings," the health department said in a statement.

The health department said its COVID-19 seven-day coronavirus case rate increased by 47% since Thanksgiving and hospitalizations by 14%.

"While the percentage of Californians fully vaccinated and boosted continues to increase, we continue to have areas of the state where vaccine coverage is low, putting individuals and communities at greater risk for COVID-19," the department said.

"Given the current hospital census, which is at or over capacity, even a moderate surge in cases and hospitalizations could materially impact California's healthcare delivery system within certain regions of the state."

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