Wendy Root Askew Mask (copy)

Chair Wendy Root Askew of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors was one of the main proponents of a countywide mask ordinance.

Masks will officially be required indoors in public spaces throughout the entire county beginning this Friday, Nov. 5, Monterey County officials announced today. The mandate could last for up to 30 days, unless the Board of Supervisors terminates the requirement.

The announcement comes after the county's indoor face covering ordinance went into effect on Friday, Oct. 29, which states that if the county reaches the  "substantial" or "high" categories for Covid-19 transmission per the Centers for Disease Control, masks will become mandatory seven days later inside businesses and other indoor places that the public gathers, regardless of vaccination status.

Violations could result in administrative fees of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and $500 for each subsequent offense. The mandate includes all cities in the county but it's up to each city to decide how to enforce it.

This morning the CDC published data showing the county in the "substantial" community transmission range as of last Friday—the same day the ordinance took effect—which triggered the mandate beginning Nov. 5.

It's unclear how the CDC calculates its case rates for counties. Currently the CDC is showing a case rate of 63.82 cases per 100,000 Monterey County residents in the last seven days, which is far above the California Department of Public Health which is reporting 4.8 cases per 100,000 residents in the county for the same time period.

The Monterey County Health Department divides its case rate between unvaccinated and vaccinated residents. For the week of Oct. 19-25, the case rate for unvaccinated residents was 8.5; for vaccinated it was 3.7.

There are exceptions to the county's mask mandate, like being in one's own home, or alone with members of the same household in a closed room, office or vehicle. Other exceptions: eating or other activities where a mask cannot be worn, like swimming; where a mask would impede a medical or cosmetic procedure; at meetings or gatherings where all vaccinated people show proof of vaccination and unvaccinated people wear masks at all times except for eating and drinking.

Masks have officially been "recommended" indoors by Moreno since July 19. He told the Board of Supervisors in August when it was first considering a mask ordinance that he would not issue an order because Covid cases were trending downward.

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