CDPH requiring masks for all public indoor settings as of Dec.15

SACRAMENTO –The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) continues to monitor COVID-19 data in order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians. Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by almost half (47%) and hospitalizations have increased by 14%. In response to the increase in cases and hospitalizations, and to slow the spread of both Delta and the highly transmissible Omicron variant, CDPH has issued updated guidance to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

Beginning December 15, CDPH will require masks to be worn in all indoor public settings irrespective of vaccine status through January 15, 2022, at which point California will make further recommendations as needed in response to the pandemic.

Additionally, CDPH updated requirements for attending mega events, like concerts and sporting events. Prior to attending an event, attendees will now require either proof of vaccination, a negative antigen COVID-19 test within one day of the event, or a negative PCR test within two days of the event.

“Our collective actions can save lives this holiday season. We are already seeing a higher level of transmission this winter and it is important to act now to prevent overwhelming our busy hospitals so we can provide quality health care to all Californians.

Additionally, California has issued a travel alert to recommend that all travelers get tested within three to five days of their arrival in California. Vaccines and these temporary measures will allow friends and families to safely spend the holidays together and will add critical layers of protection to keep people safe.”

Balancing safety and fellowship for the holidays

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Jayde Glenn– As the holiday season sets in, officials at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) are watching COVID infections and hospitalizations continue to rise, and bracing for what could be another spike in transmission — similar to the one experienced last year in our community, state and nation.

“We know that people are longing to experience the normality of pre-COVID gatherings — especially during the holiday season,” said Celia Mills, whose role at RRH includes promoting and protecting community health. “It is possible to celebrate and still remain safe, but it will take all of us working together to make sure we don’t overwhelm the staffing and capacity of our local health care facility.”

Brenda Diel, whose role includes tracking COVID infection and positivity rates in the community, said that it is difficult to project the strain on hospital capacity given the numerous variables. “I do know that we have not really slowed down in transmission, and that we were full during the holidays last year.”

While the virus appears to have a milder effect on those who are vaccinated, Ridgecrest has one of the lowest vaccinated rates in the state. “And there are other things we just don’t know about the Omicron variant and how it differs from Delta — will it be more contagious? Cause more severe illness? How will the vaccine effect it?”

Whatever the impacts, both Diel and Mills said that the best protection against another spike is for individuals to follow CDC and CDPH guidelines.

“The CDC still says that the best protection is to get vaccinated,” said Mills. Beyond that, she recommended that individuals continue to exercise social distancing, and wear a mask when that’s not possible.

Because many Christmas and New Year’s gatherings will see people using high-risk forms of transportation to cluster in small indoor spaces, the CDC recommends that unvaccinated individuals wear masks at all times. If you are sick, test for COVID before and after you travel or spend time in close contact with people whose vaccination status is unknown. Booster shots are recommended for those who are eligible — especially for those who are immunocompromised.

“I believe it is possible to have meaningful interactions and still protect the health of ourselves and our loved ones,” said Mills. “But doing so requires that we work together.

“Here in Ridgecrest we are a very isolated community with shared resources for public health. Taking care of our friends and neighbors helps make the most of what we have in place to serve all of our needs.”

Story First Published: 2021-12-17