Mask Mandates and Vaccine Requirements Reinstated in Some Counties

Mask Mandates and Vaccine Requirements Reinstated in Some Counties

Mask mandates are back for the 2023 holiday season in some California counties, albeit in a more limited form than in previous years.

Most of the counties near the liberal mecca of San Francisco are requiring health care workers to mask up “in healthcare settings,” according to the L.A. Times.

The reasoning for the renewed mandates are the onset of what is typically the worst part of the year for respiratory illnesses and the “expected late-year resurgence of COVID-19.”

The Times noted that Los Angeles County, with a population of about 12 times that of San Francisco County, was not instituting any such mandates — at least, not yet.

Instead, the county’s Department of Public Health gave health care workers a choice back in September — get a flu shot and an updated COVID vaccine, or mask up at work.

County health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said Tuesday that a renewed mask mandate was unlikely in the county unless and until COVID-related hospital admissions get to be about five times their current levels.

Attending a County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Davis said the current rate of new COVID-positive hospital admissions was running about four per week per 100,000 county residents. If that number ever hits 20, mask mandates would probably reappear, he said.

That number, however, hasn’t been seen in L.A. County since February of 2022, during the initial onslaught of the Omicron variant of the virus.

“At that point,” Davis said, “we [would be] seeing lots of severe illness … that would be something that would tax our healthcare system,” according to the Times.

“We felt the best thing to do at this moment was to have our healthcare workers … get vaccinated,” Davis added, explaining why the county wasn’t putting in place the same types of mask mandates now emerging to its north in San Francisco.

“The nationwide requirement that most healthcare workers — those working at institutions receiving federal dollars — be vaccinated against COVID-19 was lifted in August,” the Times reported.

Flu levels were also still relatively low in L.A. County. Fewer than 2 percent of samples sent for testing were showing positive for flu; health officials don’t usually consider the flu season to have actually kicked off until the number hits 5 percent or higher.

Individual health care facilities and systems can, of course, implement their own mandates if and when they deem it necessary, regardless of testing results or federal, state or county requirements.

In fact, within L.A. County itself, the city of Pasadena’s public health department requires its workers both be vaccinated and mask up when working with or near patients.

However, Long Beach, also in L.A. County, dropped its mask mandate in August, the Times said.

Current coronavirus levels detected in the county’s wastewater were barely more than a tenth of what they were compared to its highest levels last winter.

Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, San Mateo, Sonoma and Napa Counties have all instituted the mask requirements from Nov. 1 through April 30, the Times said. Santa Cruz County issued what the Times called a “similar order” without explaining how it differed from the orders issued by the other counties.

Marin and Santa Clara Counties were requiring patients to mask up in addition to their health care workers, but only through March 31.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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