California health officials on Monday said the state won't align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's relaxed masked guidance and instead will stick to the June 15 target date set by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's head of Health and Human Services made the announcement during a conference call Monday morning, saying the state needs more time to prepare and get more people vaccinated.
"Until June 15, California will keep our existing guidance on masks in place," Ghaly said. "In indoor settings ... including on public transportation and in our schools, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status."
Earlier this month, the state revised the rules for masks outdoors, saying they were no longer required unless at large outdoor gatherings or where unvaccinated people are unable to keep their distance.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Sunday defended the decision to ease mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, stressing that increasing political pressure had nothing to do with the abrupt shift in guidelines.
“I’m delivering the science as the science is delivered to the medical journals. And it evolved," Walensky said during a TV interview Sunday. “I deliver it as soon as I can when we have that information available.”
Ghaly said California now has 34 million people fully vaccinated and is among the states with the lowest case and positivity rates in the nation.