California health officials on Wednesday formally recommended that everyone resume wearing a face covering indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.
The recommendation comes one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued similar guidance for people who live in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates.
According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 90% of the state's residents live in areas with "substantial" or "high" transmission of the virus. That ubiquity has been primarily driven by the highly contagious delta variant, which has brought a wave of new cases, predominantly among the unvaccinated.
Although COVID-19 rates are still far below where they were during the winter surge earlier this year, the number of new infections throughout California has shot up in recent weeks. Some 7,000 new cases are now being reported daily, up from a low of around 600 new cases in early June. And the seven-day test positivity rate is now nearly 6%, up from less than 1%.
"The delta variant has caused a sharp increase in hospitalizations and case rates across the state," CDPH Director and state Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said in a statement. "We are recommending masking in indoor public places to slow the spread while we continue efforts to get more Californians vaccinated."