Santa Barbara County health officials are implementing a mask mandate starting Friday at 5 p.m. regardless of vaccination status.
Everyone 2 years of age and older in the county will be required to wear a mask in public, indoor settings. Health officials say the mask mandate is due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the county.
“It is about the rising case rates. It is about the number of people entering into hospitals. It’s about saving lives," said Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, Santa Barbara County Public Health director.
The rapid spread of the Delta variant has forced health officials to enforce mask-wearing once again.
Dr. Do-Reynoso explained, “It is a legal health officer order, and we are imploring local jurisdictions, local municipalities/cities to take leadership in encouraging their businesses and community members to comply.”
When it comes to outdoor mask-wearing, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department recommends wearing one if you are at an event or get together with large crowds.
“Please play your part in wearing a mask in public, indoor settings and avoid crowded, outdoor events," said Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County Public Health officer.
According to Do-Reynoso, 89% of the hospitalizations in the county in May and June from COVID-19 were unvaccinated people. Hospitals are seeing roughly 30 patients hospitalized per day in Santa Barbara County.
There is no end date set for the mask mandate at this point.
"We will review this health officer order and guide it by case rate, vaccination rate, and hospitalization rate and capacity," Do-Reynoso said.
Health officials say as of now, no vaccinated person in the county requires ICU care.
As of Thursday, more than 144,000 people in the county have yet to be vaccinated.