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By Veronica Jacuinde
Wasco Tribune and The Shafter Press 

Mask mandate returns to pre-omicron surge state


Last updated 2/25/2022 at 4:25pm | View PDF

The number of covid cases in the area are declining.

As of Feb. 16, the state's masking mandate reverted back to pre-surge requirements and fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors. Unvaccinated people are required to mask in all indoor settings.

The state also recommended that fully vaccinated people continue masking indoors if the risk may be high.

Masks are required for all individuals in the following indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status: on public transit, indoors in K-12 schools, emergency shelters, health care settings, State and local correctional/detention centers, homeless shelters, and adult/senior care facilities.

"COVID is likely to be in Kern County for the near future, if not permanently," said Brynn Carrigan, Director of Kern County Public Health Services. "We need to learn to safely live with the presence of this disease, but also remain ready to respond to potential future surges."

In Wasco, as of Feb. 22, the number of infected people since the pandemic in March 2020 is now 10,475. Also, over this same time frame, the total number of infected in Shafter is 6,553 cases.

Kern County Public Health reported to date there were 1,630 newly confirmed cases of covid-19 in the county, bringing the total confirmed cases to 233,501. According to the KCPH, there have been a total of 2,107 covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom released the SMARTER Plan as the next phase of California's response to the pandemic. The plan continues the preparation, flexibility, and systems that have been developed during the pandemic to make the community smarter and better prepared for future emergencies.

Secretary Mark Ghaly held a press conference on Feb.14, saying on Feb. 28, the state would be reassessing case rates, test positivity, hospitalizations, pediatric hospitalizations, and vaccine rates for a future potential change to the statewide school masking mandate.

Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are declining across the State, according to the California Department of Public Health. This is primarily due to the collective efforts of Californians to wear masks, get vaccinated, and get boosted, the agency reported.

Governments are set to end mask mandates.

In Kern County, 1,138,455 doses of the covid-19 vaccine have been administered to residents. Fifty-five percent of Kern's eligible population and 51% of Kern's total population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The CDPH said the current hospital census is still overcapacity, but the surge in cases and hospitalizations due to the highly infectious Omicron variant over the last two months had declined significantly.

At present, Kern County has 120 covid-19 related hospitalizations, with 26 in the ICU.

In addition to the KCPH's countywide infrastructure of partner testing sites, they also coordinate mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites throughout the county, and a map with this information can be found on their website


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