CDPH updates mask guidance, requires masking in all indoor public settings

December 14, 2021 /

As COVID-19 case rates have risen 47 percent since Thanksgiving, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will require universal masking for the next four weeks to increase protection to individuals, families, and communities during the holidays.

Along with the increase in COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations have also increased by 14 percent. Beginning on December 15, the CDPH will require masks to be worn in all indoor public settings regardless of vaccine status through January 15, 2022, at which point California will make further recommendations as needed in response to the pandemic.  This guidance will supersede all prior face coverings guidances.

According to the CDPH, “This new measure brings an added layer of mitigation as the Omicron variant, a Variant of Concern as labeled by the World Health Organization, is detected across California, the United States, and the world and is likely to spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Delta variant. Additionally, this new measure brings additional protection to individuals, families and communities during the holidays when more travel occurs, and time is spent indoors.”

Although the percentage of fully vaccinated Californians has been increasing, the state is still seeing areas where vaccination rates are low. This puts individuals and communities at greater risk to contract COVID-19. The current hospital census is either at or over capacity, which means that even a moderate surge in cases and hospitalizations could impact California’s health care delivery system within certain regions of the state.

Additionally, CDPH updated requirements for attending mega events, like concerts and sporting events. Prior to attending an event, attendees will now require either proof of vaccination, a negative antigen COVID-19 test within one day of the event, or a negative PCR test within two days of the event. A new travel advisory was also issued by CDPH effective immediately to recommend that all travelers arriving in California test for COVID-19 within three to five days after arrival, regardless of their vaccination status.

“Our collective actions can save lives this holiday season. We are already seeing a higher level of transmission this winter and it is important to act now to prevent overwhelming our busy hospitals so we can provide quality health care to all Californians,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “All Californians should get vaccinated and receive their booster. Getting your whole family up to date on vaccination is the most important action you can take to get through the pandemic and to protect yourself from serious impacts from the virus and its variants. Testing and masking remain important tools in slowing the spread.”

Statewide COVID-19 Data released by CDPH shows that cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are largely occurring among unvaccinated populations:

  • Unvaccinated people were 7.1 times more likely to get COVID-19 (data from November 21, 2021 to November 27, 2021).
  • Unvaccinated people were 12.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 (data from November 14, 2021 to November 20, 2021).
  • Unvaccinated people were 13.0 times more likely to die from COVID-19 (data from November 7, 2021 to November 13, 2021)

There have been 61,315,927 total vaccines administered in California, with 77 percent of the eligible population (5+) having been vaccinated with at least one dose. There are 3,804 hospitalizations and 967 ICU patients statewide.

According to statewide data, COVID-19 claims the lives of 51 Californians each day and there has been 74,685 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

CDPH adds that, “The risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection continues as a number of Californians remain unvaccinated. Real-world evidence continues to show that the vaccine is preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. With the combination of colder weather keeping people indoors, the waning of vaccine and natural immunity, and more mingling among non-household members, public health officials urge Californians to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible to help prevent a possible winter surge in COVID-19 cases.”

It is recommended that every vaccinated adult 18 years or older should get a booster as long as they received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or they received their Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

Vaccination appointments can be made by visiting