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California mask rules won’t change until June 15

By Ann Peterson

Managing editor


(Tuesday, May 18) California will wait until June 15 to adopt new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would allow fully vaccinated people to take off their masks indoors.

The CDC guidance said masks are no longer needed indoors except in health care facilities, airplanes, public transportation and in congregate settings, such as homeless shelters. But the CDC also noted that state and local governments have the right to ignore the advice and keep their mask mandates in place.

On Monday, California Health & Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said that the state will wait a month to change its mask mandate. Currently, fully vaccinated individuals in the state are allowed to gather outdoors and in their own homes in small groups without masks but must wear masks in most other indoor settings.

The decision aligns with California’s targeted full reopening of the state on June 15.

“There’s a great deal that is going to change on June 15,” Ghaly said, “and we’ve been tracking that date for quite some time.”

The CDC recommendations left a lot of unanswered questions, Gov. Gavin Newsom said last Friday. Would masks be required in schools, where many children are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine? Would businesses be allowed to set their own requirements for face coverings?

“There’s a whole host of complexities that we all have to work through,” Newsom said.

Earlier in the week, the governor had signaled some changes were likely with the mask rules if the state reopens on June 15, as planned.

“We will be updating our mask guidelines — outdoor masking — if we reach that threshold where we hope to be (by June 15),” Newsom said. “In fact, we’ll be eliminating those mandates. There will be guidelines and recommendations.”

Overall, the state had record low rates of new COVID-19 cases last week, while 50% of California’s adults had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Experts have predicted that achieving herd immunity would require 80 to 90% of the population to be immune from COVID-19, either from infection or vaccination.

If that’s the case, Rossmoor’s zip code has done its part to help the state and country reach that benchmark.

California’s Open Data Portal shows that as of May 12 in the 94595 ZIP code, 81% of residents 16 years and older are fully vaccinated, while almost 89% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The data is available at

But Contra Costa’s reopenings remain stuck in the orange tier, representing moderate risk of COVID-19 spread. In that tier, some things remain closed or face strict capacity limits.

To move to the minimal yellow tier, the county must have less to 2 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, a test positivity of less than 2% and an equity metric of 2.2% for two straight weeks. As of Monday, Contra Costa had 4.5 daily cases, 1.8% test positivity and a 2.5% equity metric.

Last week the county also expanded eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to children between the ages of 12 and 15. The decision came after the CDC recommended use of the vaccine for this age group. Previously, the vaccine was available only to those 16 and older.