San Diego County will adhere to California guidelines and wait until June 15 to lift the requirement for face coverings in indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, officials said Monday.
The June date is when state officials are expected to lift most virus-related restrictions across California if the current positive trends continue.
The news came hours before the county reported the fewest new cases of the virus since early in the pandemic. Just 47 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths were reported Monday.
Monday’s data bringing the total number of cases to 279,145 and the death toll remains 3,742.
A total of 118 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus in the county, according to Monday’s report. There were 39 patients reported in intensive care units, and 45 available, staffed ICU beds.
Of 6,450 tests reported to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency Monday, 1% returned positive. The 14-day rolling average dipped to 1.5%.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher on Monday confirmed the decision to adhere to the state’s guidance regarding mask requirements.
“San Diego County is aligned with the California Department of Public Health and will wait until June 15 to adopt CDC mask guidance,” Fletcher said. “This short time frame allows us to ensure everyone has access to the vaccine and time for business and entities across our county to prepare for the change.
“There is significant planning already associated with the June 15 movement “beyond the blueprint” and this change will align well with those efforts,” he continued. “Our careful posture during the pandemic has resulted in a low positivity rate and one of the lowest death rates; continuing the mask requirements for a few more weeks provides an added layer of protection as we work on getting more San Diegans vaccinated. Masks definitely help more than they hurt.”
The local statements were prompted by an earlier announcement Monday from Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary.
Face coverings are not required outdoors except at crowded events, and — for unvaccinated people — when physical distancing cannot be maintained. In indoor settings outside the home including public transportation and schools, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status.
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance, saying that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can largely stop wearing a mask in most indoor and outdoor situations.
That announcement, however, did not immediately reverse existing mask- wearing requirements in San Diego County or in California as a whole.
San Diego County requirements allow fully vaccinated residents to shed masks while indoors with other fully vaccinated people. But mask mandates remain in place for everyone working at or patronizing businesses — such as grocery stores or retail shops.
The new CDC guidance does not completely drop mask recommendations for vaccinated people. Face coverings are still recommended in some settings — such as aboard planes and buses or in crowded settings such as hospitals.
COVID-19 vaccination clinics at select San Diego high schools will continue this week in an effort to reach students as young as 12 who are now eligible for the vaccine.
The San Diego Unified School District has collaborated with UC San Diego Health and Sharp HealthCare to host the clinics at district high schools located in communities with some of the lowest vaccination rates.
All school-based clinics are open to students, staff, families and community members. Students who attend the school hosting the clinic need a signed parent consent form to get a vaccine; other students will be required to have a parent present.
“We are encouraging everyone who is eligible for a vaccine to get one as soon as they can,” said Dr. Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, vice president of the San Diego Unified Board of Education. “By bringing vaccines directly to students and families at our schools, UCSD and Sharp are making it easy and convenient to protect ourselves and our communities from the virus.”
On Tuesday, UCSD will administer the Pfizer vaccine from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hoover and Lincoln high schools while Sharp will administer vaccines during the same time period at Mira Mesa High School.
The county has received more than 3,735,305 doses of coronavirus vaccine and has administered 3,278,819 of them.
At total of 1,798,866 people have received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 85.6% of the way toward reaching the county’s goal of vaccinating 75% of San Diego County residents 12 and older, or 2,101,936 people.
A total of 1,353,783 — or 64.4% of the county’s goal — in the 12-or- older age range are fully inoculated with either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The California Department of Public Health approved the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds Wednesday, allowing the county’s 175,864 residents in that age group to make appointments to receive the shots.
On Friday, the county announced youths ages 12-17 who want to get a COVID-19 vaccination in San Diego County without a parent present will have to provide a signed form to show their parent or legal guardian has given permission.
The form can be filled out ahead of the vaccine appointment. Minors will still need to be accompanied to the appointment by an adult.
The consent form asks the parent or guardian to verify their name and contact information as well as the name and contact information of the child. The form is not required if the parent or guardian is present during the appointment.
All of the county’s static vaccination clinics will have Pfizer vaccines on hand for drop-in appointments — as opposed to the mobile clinics, which use primarily Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Additional information about scheduling appointments and what types of documentation youths will need to get vaccinated is available at coronavirus-sd.com/vaccine.
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