(KTXL) — California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced the indoor mask mandate is here to stay until Feb. 15, just 10 days before it was set to expire.
Ghaly said the rule will be reevaluated as the date gets closer, but state leaders said they are not using a specific metric to decide when to drop it.
“Omicron is here and it’s here now, and we can’t abandon the tools that we’ve used to achieve our collective success,” Ghaly told reporters Wednesday.
The announcement comes as state health officials say they’re concerned about the number of hospital admissions, which increased 8.4% overnight, with more than 8,000 hospitalized with COVID-19.
Ghaly said the state is bringing in 1,800 out-of-state medical professionals to help hospitals with staffing and surge issues. He also said they’re keeping a close eye on other resources, like oxygen and ventilators.
Meanwhile, for schools, Ghaly confirmed the delivery of 6.2 million take-home COVID-19 tests the administration promised for students. State officials said they were initially delayed because of weather and supply issues.
According to Ghaly, the state is doing everything it can to keep schools open.
Businesses will also remain open and Ghaly said closing or putting limits on them is not in the current discussion.
“We believe we have a lot of tools to keep things moving and apply those tools in a way that is not disruptive to California,” he explained.
The state’s mask mandate overlaps with the Super Bowl, which is slated to be in Los Angeles this year. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is making it clear that California is looking forward to hosting one of the biggest sporting events of the year and is working with the NFL.