(KERO) — California will extend the indoor masking requirement until Feb. 15, said Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly during a Wednesday teleconference. The requirement will be re-evaluated after that date and could be extended.
"Omicron is here and it is here now," said Ghaly. "[We] cannot abandon tools that have helped us so far like vaccines and boosters."
He said that California is better prepared to cope with a new surge with more tools and better capacity at the state's disposal.
Ghaly pointed out that more young people are being admitted to hospitals in California. However, he said that pediatric hospitals have been well supported. Many of the young people being admitted with COVID are not being admitted in ICU and don't need ventilation.
A big concern is hospitalizations. Ghaly said during the teleconference that the state is working to determine how many patients who are hospitalized are there due to COVID.
"Hospitals are doing what they are supposed to do but we are concerned about the level of admission."
He also said the state is looking to expand testing sites to not put the burden on hospitals.
To help support emergency rooms, Ghaly recommended that people lean on their current health care providers "to make sure you are protected" and seek out community testing sites.
Ghaly also explained that it's important to get vaccinated and to get a booster shot if possible. The vaccine won't always prevent you from getting sick Ghaly explained, but it can help prevent being hospitalized. The majority of people being hospitalized are those that are unvaccinated.