Masks at Board of Supervisors Meeting (copy)

Two men at the Monterey County Board of Supervisors meeting on July 28, 2020, during an earlier mask order established by Health Officer Edward Moreno.

With rising cases of Covid-19 and the specter of a new highly infectious variant in omicron, the state's health officer and secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, Mark Ghaly, announced today an indoor mask mandate for all parts of the state that do not already have one in place. The mandate goes into effect Wednesday, Dec. 15 and expires Jan. 15.

Cases statewide have risen nearly 50 percent since Thanksgiving. The latest case rate is 14.1 cases per 100,000 residents. It's a similar situation in Monterey County, where the case rate on Nov. 26 was 5 cases per 100,000 residents and now sits at 9.8 cases. (The Monterey County Health Department reports a case rate of 25.8 for unvaccinated residents, as of Dec. 6.)

Hospitalizations in the county have also nearly doubled, from 13 on Nov. 26 to 25 as of Sunday.

The statewide mask mandate makes moot for now the struggle at the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, where a shifting majority of votes by supervisors created an indoor mask mandate ordinance in September, which went into effect the first week of November, only to suspend it after people complained to the supervisors and one, Mary Adams, changed her vote. At the last meeting on Dec. 8, a majority of the board declined to reinstate the mandate.

Throughout the board's political struggles, Monterey County Health Officer Edward Moreno stood by his recommendation for the wearing of masks indoors in public spaces, rather than ordering masks, because case rate numbers were low.

So far the Monterey County Health Department is not reporting any findings of the omicron variant. On Friday the state reported 19 cases, mostly in Southern California, the Central Valley and the Bay Area. The dominant variants reported in Monterey County are epsilon and delta. 

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