SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today released updated guidance for the use of face masks, using the federal community COVID-19 levels to inform statewide masking recommendations. The community levels set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) help individuals and communities decide which prevention actions to take for COVID-19 based on data that classifies communities as low, medium, or high risk.
The state’s updated guidance also allows certain congregate settings, including correctional facilities, homeless and emergency shelters, and cooling centers to make masks optional when community COVID-19 levels are low.
These masking changes take effect this Friday, September 23 and do not affect health care and long-term care settings.
“This shift in masking is consistent with California’s SMARTER Plan and gives Californians the information they should consider when deciding when to wear a mask, including the rate of spread in the community and personal risk,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón.
Here are the new CDPH masking recommendations based on community COVID-19 levels:
- When community levels are low, CDPH advises those at lower risk for severe illness to wear a mask based on their personal preference and individual level of risk and those at higher risk for severe illness to consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor public places.
- When community levels are medium, CDPH advises those at lower risk for severe illness to consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor public places. Wearing a mask is recommended in crowded indoor public places for those at higher risk for severe illness.
- When community levels are high, CDPH recommends all those at lower risk of severe illness wear a mask in crowded indoor public places and strongly recommends those at higher risk for severe illness to wear a mask in indoor public places.
Californians at higher risk for severe illness, including people who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised, have certain disabilities or underlying health conditions, should take extra COVID-19 precautions.
When wearing a mask, Californians are urged to choose one with the best fit and filtration.
CDC Community Level Tracker: Know your COVID-19 community level.