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Santa Barbara County to lift indoor mask mandate next week


SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -- The Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health announced on Thursday that it will lift its indoor mask mandate on Feb. 16.

“Our community has endured through 23 months of the COVID-19 pandemic and we have learned how best to protect ourselves,” said county Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso.

“Vaccination, including receiving a booster, and testing will continue to diminish the spread of this virus, especially as we continue to move past the surge caused by the Omicron variant.”

The state announced on Monday that it would be lifting its indoor mask mandate on Feb. 15.

After analyzing recent data trends and characteristics of the circulating Omicron variant, public health officials determined that aligning with the state on universal indoor masking is appropriate, said public health spokeswoman Jackie Ruiz.

The Omicron variant has proven to spread easier, but also has resulted in shorter periods of illness, fewer hospitalizations, and a lower death count for fully vaccinated individuals, she added.

Under the California Department of Public Health's health officer order, masks are still required – regardless of vaccination status – in specified areas, including public transit, indoors in K-12 school settings, shelters, and childcare.

Masking is still required indoors for unvaccinated residents.

San Luis Obispo County announced on Wednesday that it would lift its mandate on Feb. 16.

While the county's mask mandate is being rescinded, public health officials urged residents to stay vigilant and consider their personal risk in the months ahead.

“We are calling upon our community to act in the best interest of themselves and their neighbors,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg.

“We are now on the downslope of the recent surge as evidenced by our lowering case rate and test positivity along with stable hospitalizations. We have considered how the dominant variant circulates and what effects it has, and have determined we are in a place to be able to lift the universal indoor masking requirement.”

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Jade Martinez-Pogue

Jade Martinez-Pogue is the Assignment Editor and web journalist at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Jade, click here

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