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SLO County lays out what needs to happen for mask mandate to be lifted

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. – The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department has released criteria that would allow for the county's indoor mask mandate to be lifted.

Health officials said the criteria was developed with hospital capacity in mind as the winter months approach.

“The COVID-19 case rate in SLO County is moving in the right direction and for that I thank the many residents and business owners who are actively complying with the indoor mask requirement and those who are making the decision to get vaccinated,” said San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. “As this current surge begins to recede, now is the time to establish criteria we can collectively work toward to lift indoor masking requirements for many people in many settings.” 

The necessary criteria is listed as:

  • San Luis Obispo County reaches the moderate (yellow) COVID-19 transmission tier, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and remains there for at least one incubation period of 10 days
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in the County are low and stable and total hospital capacity is sufficient to meet the needs of all patients, in the judgment of the County Health Officer.

Currently, SLO County is listed in the CDC's Orange Tier, which denotes that the county has "substantial" case totals.

The mask mandate went into effect in SLO County on Sept. 1 as hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 surged. Since June 15, 78% of new COVID-19 cases, 84% of hospitalizations and 79% of deaths were among the unvaccinated population, the health department said.

“Lifting the indoor mask mandate prematurely, while there is still substantial COVID-19 transmission and as we head into the winter months when hospitals typically see a surge from other respiratory conditions, will only land us right back where we were before the mask order was put in place,” said Dr. Borenstein.

Borenstein and the public health department are encouraging everyone who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to make time to get one. The shots are safe, effective and free.

For the latest facts and figures on the COVID-19 pandemic in San Luis Obispo County, click here. For information receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

Public health says it's more important that ever for people to get a flu vaccine as the winter months approach.

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Karen Cruz-Orduña

Karen Cruz-Orduña is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Karen, click here.

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