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Health Highlights: May 19, 2021

By Robert Preidt HealthDay Reporter

California Won't Ease Mask Rules For at Least a Month

It will be at least another month before California loosens its mask rules, the state's health director said Monday.

Residents will have to keep wearing masks and social distancing indoors until June 15, the date when Gov. Gavin Newsom has said nearly all COVID-19 restrictions could be lifted if case counts remain low, the Associated Press reported.

California is continuing its "relentless focus on delivering vaccines, particularly in underserved communities and those that were hard hit throughout this pandemic," Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

More than a dozen other states have already eased mask rules under new guideline announced last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the AP reported.

But the CDC guidelines say everyone -- even those who are fully vaccinated -- should still wear masks in crowded indoor locations such as airplanes, buses, hospitals and prisons.

The shifting of mask-wearing advice has confused some Californians, who only a few weeks ago were told that that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks outdoors unless they are at crowded gatherings, the AP reported.

Rafael Sanchez, 64, of San Diego called it "a scrambled egg message." The retiree is fully vaccinated and said he only wears a mask because it's required at his favorite bagel shop and on the bus to get there.

Most of the 58 counties in California — including Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego — are heeding the state's masking schedule.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said the county will use the extra month to fully vaccinate more people.

"More than half of our adult population remains vulnerable," she told the AP.

After becoming the epicenter for the virus in the United States at the start of the year, California has experienced a precipitous decline. The state infection positivity rate among those tested has fallen below 1%, officials said Monday, and more than 34.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered .

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