Mask rules loosen again as Sacramento County re-enters CDC’s ‘low’ COVID risk level

With COVID-19 numbers improving in Sacramento County, masks are no longer required in certain settings in accordance with California’s pandemic protocols.

The county, in a weekly update Thursday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, returned to the “low” community level for COVID-19 danger for the first time since the end of November.

Under a change to California Department of Public Health guidelines made last September, masks are required in settings including homeless shelters, emergency and weather respite shelters, jails and prisons only in counties classified within the CDC’s “medium” or “high” community levels.

Mask mandates returned in those settings Dec. 1 in Sacramento County, when the county was moved into the CDC’s medium level amid a winter surge in COVID-19 transmission. Sacramento briefly rose to the high community level, for one week in late December, before returning to medium.

Following the return to last week to the low community level, those entities in Sacramento County are no longer required to enforce universal mask requirements, county health officials said in a Wednesday news release.

Masks are still required in California in health care settings and at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, regardless of community level.

Virus transmission rates improved significantly over the course of January in the capital region and throughout California, state health data show. California’s test positivity rate has plummeted to 4.9% from 12.3% in the past three weeks, according to the latest CDPH data, while Sacramento County dropped to 5.1% from 10.9%.

The number of patients hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 fell by 42% in Sacramento County, from 231 patients on Dec. 31 to 135 on Jan. 31, CDPH data show. The statewide patient tally fell by 43% during the same period.

All but two of California’s 58 counties were assigned to the CDC’s low level in the federal agency’s latest update. San Diego and Imperial counties are in the medium level.

No more mask, vaccine and test requirements for prison visitors

Separately, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Wednesday ended its requirement for those visiting state prison inmates to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination status or a negative virus test, as well as its mask requirement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom in October announced California will end its state of emergency for COVID-19 on Feb. 28. Newsom declared the emergency in March 2020.

This week, the Biden administration announced it plans to end the national public health emergency for COVID-19 on May 11.