California extends mask mandate through Feb. 15 amid surge of COVID-19 cases

State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced the one-month extension on Wednesday. 

The extended mandate announcement comes just days after a report that suggested cloth masks are ineffective against the omicron variant of COVID-19.

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People wear face coverings as they ride an escalator in Union Station in Los Angeles. A California mask mandate was extended Wednesday through Feb. 15 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

People wear face coverings as they ride an escalator in Union Station in Los Angeles. A California mask mandate was extended Wednesday through Feb. 15 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“At that time, we will again re-evaluate the condition across California, our communities and our health-care delivery settings to make sure that we are taking the latest information into account to determine if there would be another extension, or if we’re prepared to lift that requirement across the state,” Ghaly said during a briefing. “Omicron is here and it’s here now.”

The original mask mandate went into effect Dec. 15, 2021 and was slated to expire on Jan. 15. It requires the wearing of masks in all indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status. 

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County reported more than 21,000 new COVID-19 cases. The county reported 45,000 new cases after the holiday weekend. 

People wearing masks wait to cross the street in Hollywood, California.

People wearing masks wait to cross the street in Hollywood, California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Those figures prompted the county court system to pause criminal jury trials for at least two weeks beginning Wednesday. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California also announced the immediate suspension of federal trials for at least three weeks because of the coronavirus. 

Statewide, there were just over 8,000 hospitalizations for COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health and Human Services. 

Ghaly urged people to get vaccinated, obtain their booster shots and to wear better-fitting masks to combat omicron. He also said the mandate would not impact Super Bowl LVI, which is scheduled to be held in SoFi Stadium, in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood on Feb. 13.

The venue is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers and has had a mask policy since October. 

“The Super Bowl is coming to L.A.,” he told FOX 11 Los Angeles.

The NFL told Fox News it still plans to hold its annual championship game in Los Angeles.

“As part of our standard contingency planning process that we conduct for all regular and postseason games, we have contacted several clubs to inquire about stadium availability in the event we cannot play the Super Bowl as scheduled due to weather-related issues or unforeseen circumstances,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement.

He added the league contacted the Dallas Cowboys club to inquire about the availability of the Cowboys Stadium as a backup venue for the Super Bowl. McCarthy also noted that the Rams will play in SoFi Stadium on Sunday where it will host 70,000-plus fans.

The extended mandate came on the same day a testing site in Los Angeles County confirmed the first known local case of “flurona,” a combination of the flu and the coronavirus.

 

Multiple cases have been detected in the United States. 

In Los Angeles, a worker at a testing site told the news outlet that a child tested positive this week after returning from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with his family.

Fox News Paul Best contributed to this report. 

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