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Who's enforcing the statewide mask mandate that goes into effect Wednesday?

Several sheriff's offices said they have no plans on enforcing the mandate. Fresno Sheriff's Office said they're too busy dealing with the rise in crime.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Starting Wednesday, all Californians regardless of vaccination status will be required to wear masks in public spaces indoors for a month.

Enforcement happens on the local level, and through previous reporting, it's known that citations for not following mandates are very rare. 

Several sheriff’s offices, including Stanislaus and Fresno, told political reporter Morgan Rynor that they have no plans on enforcing this mask mandate. Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriffs Office said they’re too busy dealing with the rise in crime. 

Republican Assemblymember Kevin Kiley (R- Roseville) is against mandates. 

“That's an individual decision," Kiley said. "People at this stage in the COVID-19 experience are well aware of what the tools are that we can use to protect ourselves in appropriate circumstances.”

Kiley echoed what sheriffs' office told Morgan Wednesday: that law enforcement has no plans to be the mask police. 

"A lot of the sheriffs throughout the state, including the sheriffs in my area and the three counties I represent, have said 'no, we're not going to enforce this',” Kiley said. 

Dr. Rohan with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said it is ultimately up to local jurisdictions, but he hopes the mandate sends the right signal. 

"We are sending a clear signal that there's a reason we're worried," Dr. Rohan said. "Cases are up and hospitalizations are up."

"We're asking the public to follow along just like with seatbelts, something that protects us and others around us," he said, "but it will be an individual and local enforcement decision ultimately." 

UC Davis Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chris Cappa researches the effectiveness of masks and says any mask is better than no mask.  

"Other masks, like cloth masks, tend to let more air through a little bit and maybe don't fit quite as well and so some air might sneak out the sides as well," he said, "but they can still be quite effective."

Although he says the idea of wearing a mask into a restaurant only to take it off a minute later is a “bit silly,” he said the mandate is still a step in the right direction.

In counties like Shasta, there is no local mandate and less than 50% of the eligible population is vaccinated. 

“Shasta County continues to have a high seven-day transmission rate," Amy Koslosky said, "and masks are definitely one of the preventive measures that we encourage.”

Amy Koslosky is Shasta County’s community education specialist and said that education is key. 

"In addition to masking, of course, we're encouraging vaccinations," she said. 

Dr. Rohan with CDPH said he gets it.  Everyone is tired of COVID restrictions, but he said in places like Sacramento for example, the hospital ICU capacity is at 90%. 

Dr. Rohan said the mandate could be extended beyond a month as well. CDPH will reevaluate where the state stands in a few weeks from now to determine that. 

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