The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) revised the state’s facemask policy Thursday, strongly encouraging Californians to wear two masks instead of one to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The CDPH revised the policy following new recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In February, the CDC released a study finding that wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask could reduce COVID-19 exposure by over 90%, altering their nationwide guidelines.
Governor Gavin Newsom also urged Californians to follow the guidelines on Thursday, at least until a greater percentage of the state is vaccinated.
“This is not the time to spike the ball,” explained Newsom on Thursday. “There’s no mission accomplished sign behind us. We really have to work through this next six to eight or nine weeks, the next 100 days, until we get to that abundance frame with the vaccines.”
Newsom in particular singled out four states, including Texas, who had ended their statewide mask mandates earlier this month. While he was joined by other high-ranking lawmakers in their disapproval of removing such mandates, including by President Joe Biden who had called the mandate removals in the Southern states “Neanderthal thinking,” Newsom was the first state leader to purposefully increase mask mandates in retaliation.
“We are encouraging people basically to double down on mask wearing, particularly in light of all of what I would argue is bad information coming from at least four states in this country,” added Newsom. “We will not be walking down their path. We’re mindful of your health and our future.
“The positivity rate in those states is substantially higher than even here in the state of California. And yet, we still feel very, very strongly, as we begin to loosen things up and reopen our economy, that mask wearing is becoming now more essential as we transition to herd immunity and broad access to vaccines.”
Absolutely reckless. https://t.co/3O5GsbSLpM
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 2, 2021
Texas, California announce wildly different mask mandate updates
While reaction in Texas has been mixed to their mandate removal, Newsom did point out correct positivity figures as, according to Johns Hopkins University, Texas currently has a 13.4% positivity rate while California only has a 7% rate. Texas Governor Abbott was also correct in saying that California had more total cases and deaths, with California leading by around 900,000 more cases and 9,000 more deaths than Texas as of Friday.
However, business leaders in both states have been nearly unanimous in approving of the mandate being removed, as it is expected to help Texas economically recover quicker due to less restrictions.
“Texas now has an economic advantage, along with other states, in stopping the mandatory masks,” noted Houston-based economist Alan Conklin to the Globe. “California is doubling down on nothing by doubling the masks. But, if COVID-19 rates do shoot up dramatically in Texas during the next few weeks, California may come out on top if their COVID number continue to fall, allowing them to open on their pace while Texas may be back having mandatory masks.
“Honestly, this is a childish fight between the two states, as they both have different populations, urban centers, and other factors. Both Governors are playing with peoples lives and economic welfare here. That’s never a great thing to do.”
It is currently unknown when California will halt mandatory masks statewide, although it is hinted to end once vaccinations reach a point for broad coverage statewide.