The California Department of Public Health is again recommending everyone regardless of vaccination status wear masks while in indoor settings.

CDPH stopped short of requiring everyone regardless of vaccination status to wear masks in all indoor settings. But the state is again a little stricter with its recommendations than standards set by the Centers For Disease Control.

The state's guidelines still call for the unvaccinated to wear masks in all indoor settings and for everyone regardless of vaccination status to still wear a mask in settings such as public transportation.

The CDC came out with guidelines on Tuesday calling for everyone regardless of vaccination status to wear a mask in areas where the transmission of the COVID-19 virus is “high or substantial.” CDC's definition of high is 100 or more cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days and its definition of substantial is between 50 and 100 cases per 100,000 residents.

The CDC reported two-thirds of the nation's counties are either in the high or substantial category. Forty-five of the 58 counties in the state were in the high or substantial category or 96 percent of the state's population.

Tulare County was one of the 13 counties not in the high or substantial category and among the most populous counties in the state not to be in the high or substantial category, joining Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz Counties.

But CDPH is still recommending all those in the state regardless of vaccination status and regardless of where they live to wear a mask while indoors.

The new mask guidelines have been issued to slow the spread of the more infectious Delta variant. Health officials state another reason for the new mask guidelines is with breakthrough cases of the Delta variant causing mostly mild cases in those who are vaccinated, those who are vaccinated who have the virus can still spread the virus to the unvaccinated.

“The Delta variant has caused a sharp increase in hospitalizations and case rates across the state. We are recommending masking in indoor public places to slow the spread while we continue efforts to get more Californians vaccinated,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer.

Tulare County would still meet the CDC standards when it comes to mask guidelines based on the latest data released by Tulare County Health and Human Services on Wednesday. But the number of new cases in the county has almost doubled in the last week.

There were 126 new cases in Tulare County last week, an increase over the 68 new cases that was reported the week before. That's still about half the number that put the county in the substantial category as the county's population is close to 500,000.

There were another 78 cases reported in the county based on adjustments in the data, bringing the total number of cases in Tulare County since March 11, 2020 to 50,278.

There are also other troubling signs in the county. The number of active cases in the county also nearly doubled from 182 the previous week to 329 on Wednesday. The health department reported Tulare County's positive test rate increased by 1.1 percent to 3.4 percent, which is still below the state rate of 5.3 percent.

The number of hospitalizations in the county related to COVID has also more than doubled. The health department reported there were 46 hospitalizations in the county, 34 confirmed COVID cases and 12 suspected COVID cases. That's up from 20 the previous week when the county had 18 confirmed cases and two suspected cases. The county's hospitalization rates due to COVID has steadily risen over the last several weeks after falling below 10.

On Wednesday Sierra View Medical Center reported it had six COVID-19 cases and 10 cases suspected of having COVID-19.

Governor Gavin Newsom in a press conference on Monday said if the trend continues in the state, the situation could become much worse. “The projections are sobering,” said Newsom about what hospitalizations could be if the current trend holds.

The state reported 62.3 percent of all eligible Californians have been vaccinated. Tulare County's health department reported on Wednesday there were 193,281 residents ages 12 and older in the county who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, an increase of 3,032 over the previous week.

The state has also issued guidelines for all students and staff in indoor settings at K-12 schools to wear a mask, but has left it up to local school districts to enforce the mandate. Last week the Tulare County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling for local control in support of parents and school boards to set their own COVID-19 safety policies.

Porterville Unified School District and the Burton School District have both announced the wearing of masks will be required by everyone when they are in indoor settings when the new school year begins.

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