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California health officials say state mask mandate to run through Tuesday before ending

Starting Wednesday, California's indoor masking requirement will end for vaccinated people.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Monday, the California Department of Public Health clarified that California's indoor masking requirement for vaccinated people will end at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration brought back the statewide masking mandate in mid-December as the omicron variant gained momentum and extended it last month through Feb. 15.

WATCH: Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly on latest masking rules

Main takeaways from CA Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly's Monday afternoon press conference:

  • The state announced they would be moving from a mask requirement to a strong recommendation of indoor public masking for vaccinated people.
  • This announcement comes as a result of data showing that the number of COVID-19 cases has dropped significantly, the spread of the virus has begun contracting, and hospital staffing has improved.
  • As of Feb. 14, there has been a nearly 72% reduction in test positivity in California.
  • The state's approach has adapted to the changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, as they have learned to deploy mitigation strategies such as testing, masking, and vaccinations.
  • The level of uncertainty has improved as the state is more aware of how COVID-19 can impact our community, where it is heading, and what has happened over the last few weeks.

Local health officials can continue their own requirements, however.  

"Local decisions are allowed and well supported by the state," Dr. Ghaly said. "Some cities and counties will put added layers of protection in place, beyond what the state is doing because the conditions in their community allow for it."

The state also is lifting a requirement that people test negative before visiting hospitals and nursing homes, effective immediately. 

Meanwhile, health officials say they are continuing to evaluate the masking requirement for schoolchildren.

RELATED: CA announces no new guidance on masks in schools, will reassess on February 28

Everyone will still have to wear masks in schools, public transportation, nursing homes and other congregate living facilities.

Last week, Sacramento and San Joaquin County officials said they'll follow the state's lead on the mask mandate. 

"Our numbers are heading in the right direction, and we are seeing declines in case counts, so this is appropriate for the County," a spokesperson for Sacramento County told ABC10.

Yolo County officials said they plan to lift their mask mandate the same day the state's ends. 

Other local counties following the state's lead starting Wednesday include El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Stanislaus, Solano, Sutter and Yuba.

Health officials in 11 San Francisco Bay Area counties also announced the lifting of their mask requirements for vaccinated people in most indoor public settings beginning Wednesday, Feb. 16. 

Santa Clara County is the most populous in the Bay Area region with almost 2 million people and won’t lift its mask mandate.

It's important to note that come Wednesday, the state will still require anyone who is not fully vaccinated to remain masked in all indoor public settings.

Neil Galimba, an esthetician at Face & Body Emporium in East Sacramento, told ABC10 that he and the other independent contractors who work at this retail and salon space are talking about what the expiration of California's statewide mask mandate on Wednesday will mean for them.

"I think a lot of people are going to choose to (continue wearing masks), and a lot of people will choose not to," Galimba said. "I'm more on the side of wearing my mask in larger settings. As of now, I'm think I'm going to hold on to that for about a month and see what happens with the omicron (variant)."

Businesses can still choose to keep a mask requirement in place for all customers and employees, even if the county has dropped the mandate.

Some doctors, including ABC10 Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli, worry states like California are lifting mask mandates too soon.

“Lifting the mask mandates makes me really nervous right now, because we are literally weeks away from becoming endemic with the way that things are going, because we're in a good place," Kohli said. "If we just hang in there a little bit longer and really knock the virus off its feet, I think we could be endemic as early as, you know, May or June or even the summer.”

RELATED: COVID-19’s ‘endemic’ stage could come this spring, NorCal epidemiologists say

She said she will still mask in public indoor spaces and recommends the same to her patients.

"I think regardless of what a public health official or a government official says about what's required of me, the right thing to do, the recommended thing to do, and the neighborly thing to do right now - especially to protect those who may be more vulnerable than me - is to keep that mask on until we have very low case numbers," Kohli said. “I feel like we have done this dance before, and I am not ready to let this virus - which has been one step ahead of us at every stage of this pandemic - win again."


Watch more on ABC10

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