So what exactly are the guidelines that people should follow in regard to wearing masks?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on May 14 that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks, either indoors or outdoors, in most circumstances.

However, California health officials are being much more cautious.

“Until June 15, when California plans to fully reopen the economy, California will keep our existing guidance around masks in place,” said the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly in a statement on May 17.

The existing guidance in California, as of May 3, is:

• Face coverings are no longer required outdoors except at crowded events, and for unvaccinated people, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

• In indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation and schools, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status.

Ghaly indicated that the increase in the number of people getting vaccinated has contributed to the state’s success in reducing the number of coronavirus infections, but many more vaccines still need to be dispensed.

“California has made amazing progress in our fight against COVID-19. With more than 34 million vaccines administered, we now have among the lowest case and positivity rates in the nation,” Ghaly said.

“On June 15, California plans to implement the CDC’s guidelines around masking to allow fully vaccinated Californians to go without a mask in most indoor settings. This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change while we continue our relentless focus on delivering vaccines, particularly in underserved communities. We urge all Californians to get vaccinated to ensure that infection and hospitalization rates remain low across the state and that we can all return to the activities we love.”

Some Republicans in California criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom for postponing implementation of the CDC’s guidelines.

Newsom “is keeping the mask-mandate in place, defying science, logic and now the CDC,” said the California Assembly Republicans on Twitter. “Whether it’s based in fear, pride or just power, the truth is that progressives can’t quit the lockdown.”

However, the California Nurses Association (CNA) is glad that the state’s health officials are rejecting the CDC’s announcement, which the CNA believes was based on faulty science.

“When it comes to public health, science must be the North Star,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN, and a president of CNA. “Right now, more than 600 people a day are still dying of COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than half of the population is not yet fully vaccinated. California’s decision to wait to make any changes to the current guidance on masking and other critical protections is a prudent one that we applaud. We encourage our state officials to continue to look to the data and the science when making these critical public health decisions and not cave to political pressure or arbitrary timelines.”