Health Officer Reinstates Mask Mandate in Humboldt as Cases Skyrocket

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Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman announced at a press conference this afternoon that he is reinstating a countywide mask order requiring facial coverings in indoor public spaces, effective at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The announcement comes amid a surge in local cases that officials believe is being fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, with 82 cases being reported today, the largest single-day count to date since March of 2020. Hoffman also reported that the county is seeing the highest levels of hospitalization since the pandemic began.

With the 82, public health has confirmed 237 new COVID-19 cases so far this week on the heels of 217 last week. 

"We have to protect the critical infrastructure of our fragile hospital system in Humboldt County, and we want to see businesses stay open," Hoffman said. "We don't want to return to lockdown situations and we have to have kids in school this fall ... . It is with all of this in mind that we are doing this."

The facial covering order will require that masks be worn in all indoor or enclosed spaces (except for a person's residence), as well as outdoor spaces where individuals are unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others at all times. Those under 2 years old, who have breathing issues or who are physically unable to take off a mask on their own are exempt.

The county's test-positivity rate, meanwhile, sits at 10.5 percent, the highest at any point throughout the pandemic.

According to a state database, 22 people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 locally, including six under intensive care.

Humboldt County's mask order follows others implemented in Los Angeles, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonomoa, Sacramento and Yolo counties in recent weeks as the Delta variant continues to spread through California.

The order replaces the masking recommendation public health issued last week, along with a new recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that masks be worn in indoor public spaces in all areas of "high" or "substantial" COVID-19 spread, which includes Humboldt County.

Former Health Officer Teresa Frankovich first issued a mask order that went into effect April 25, 2020, and remained in place until June 15, when California lifted most COVID-19 restrictions statewide.

Officials continue to urge local residents to get vaccinated, saying it is tremendously effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. For more information on the vaccines and upcoming vaccination clinics, or to schedule an appointment, click here.

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