Several colleges in California are bringing back indoor mask mandates as COVID cases rise in the state and in other areas around the country.
The University of California Irvine started requiring employees and students to wear masks while indoors in campus structures on Monday, along with other schools in the state. The school announced the decision last week, stating that the COVID cases in the area have made Orange County transition into a live of “high community transmission,” according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Everyone has to wear a mask while inside, even if they are vaccinated, “except when alone in an enclosed space,” per an announcement regarding the guidance. The directive stated that people don’t have to wear a face mask if they are inside their “living unit,” showering, eating, or drinking.
UC Riverside, which is in Southern California, also brought back its indoor mask guidelines this summer for a specific amount of time, but the rules are no longer in effect. Neighboring UCLA temporarily brought back its indoor mask rule last month and then prolonged the rule. UCLA has also put back into place daily symptom checking for students and employees, and people are also highly encouraged to test weekly for COVID-19.
San Diego Unified also decided to reinstate its indoor mask mandate for students and employees beginning this week.
Dr. Ashish Jha, President Biden’s COVID coordinator, showed support for masking at the local level.
“My view on this has been very clear, which is local jurisdictions, cities, counties, states should make decisions about mask mandates, because communities are different and their patterns of transmission are different,” Jha said. “That said, CDC has very clear guidance on this as well through their COVID community levels. And the CDC recommendation is that when you’re in a high zone, that sort of orange zone, you know, people wearing masks indoors is really important, and it really will make a difference.”
Los Angeles County, home to 10 million residents, is also getting ready to reinstate an indoor mask mandate if COVID cases stay in the high level, according to the CDC, for two weeks in a row. The rule could take effect as early as the end of this month. Los Angeles County is currently in a “high” level of COVID.
“We can’t predict with certainty what the future hospitalization trend will look like. However, it is looking more likely, as cases and admissions have continued to increase, that we’ll enter the high community level designation later this month,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said earlier this month.