California’s New Mask Mandate Takes Effect

Capriccia Thomas, Health Editor

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decline throughout the state, Governor Newsom details California’s next steps for pandemic recovery.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new shift for “endemic” efforts for the future, prioritizing prevention and faster responses to outbreaks, on Feb. 17.

Gov. Newsom introduced the next phase of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response after the Feb. 16 mandate ending indoor masks regulations for those vaccinated. However, the state still encourages taking cautionary measures. 

This will serve as California’s strategic approach to managing COVID-19, focusing on adaptability to the evolving pandemic and its variants to ensure readiness, flexibility, and awareness. 

This initiative, “SMARTER PLAN,” is an acronym for Shots, Masks, Awareness, Readiness, Testing Education, and Rx. Newsom’s plan entails vaccination surveillance for COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots. 

“We have put together a plan that we coined as ‘SMARTER PLAN’ because we are smarter, two years later. We are more adaptable; we are more capable to understand the nature of this disease, the mutations, its variants. […] We move out of the pandemic phase, and we move into a phase which should allow you confidence that we are not walking away. That we’re taking the lessons learned and leaning into the future,” stated Gov. Newsom.

The plan also details specific goals and outlines partnerships with schools, churches, and community-based organizations for vaccinations and booster shots. 

“We have more prescriptive details and strategies to continue those efforts in partnership with 800 community-based organizations, in partnership 200 mobile clinic sites, and partnerships with state-on testing labs, schools, and faith-based leaders,” stated Newsom. 

The governor ensures that there’s still more work to do. “We have work to do as it relates to turning the proverbial page. And what we’re announcing here today is about turning a page. […] We have all come to understand what was not understood at the beginning of this crisis, that there is no end date,” stated Governor Newson. 

The key factor is looking to the future and pushing forward. It’s significant that California continues to move out of a crisis mentality into a reactive framework by understanding this virus is here to stay. But, we must remain vigilant and confident in order to best approach this crisis. 

“Moving from this crisis mentality, moving from a reactive framework to a framework where we are more settled in our approach. That we stand firm and confident as we lean into the future, moving away from a reactive mindset and a crisis mindset to living with this virus,” continued Newsom.

  The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing endemic, as California is the first state to work to mitigate risks and implement smarter and better plans than the ones before. 

“It’s been an amazing journey we’ve been on. But, it has not been linear. That is why we have to prepare for the unknown, but again with confidence and more knowledge and more resources, and a more resourceful mindset. Being first in this space doesn’t mean we’re best. But it means we’re a lot better, and it means we will continue to be a lot better,” concluded Newsom.