Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said in a press conference Monday that the state is taking steps to get ahead of the spread of COVID-19 through the holidays.
The state is enacting a universal indoor mask mandate statewide, set to last from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15.
The mandate will apply to all counties in California, Ghaly said, including those not currently requiring indoor masking.
Additionally, those attending events with 1,000 or more attendees who don’t share proof of vaccination will have to present a negative COVID-19 test upon entry. These test requirements are for shorter windows than the 72 hours listed in previous guidance. Ghaly stated that PCR test results must have been taken within 48 hours of the event, and rapid COVID-19 tests must have been taken within 24 hours.
Finally, travelers entering or returning to California are recommended to get tested for COVID-19 within three to five days of arrival.
Ghaly said that the most recent public health measures are a response to a statewide 47% increase in COVID-19 case rates since Thanksgiving and remaining uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant.
Ghaly called the mask mandate the "common sense thing to do."
The announcement comes as California surpasses 75,000 deaths and the United States nears 800,000 deaths from the virus since the pandemic's start.
Ghaly admitted that much remains unknown about the Omicron variant but said that it seems to have a rapid replication period, which could strain hospitals during the holiday season.