Mask order extended in Santa Barbara County

Kylie Dickinson, Staff Writer

In a Nov. 4th press release, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced a prolonged order for masks to be worn in indoor public settings. The order states that all people must wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while indoors, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated. 

The previous mandate was thought to end Nov. 5, but due to the frequency of cases in Santa Barbara, the health department has extended the end date. This new law is titled 2021-10.6 and is currently effective beginning on Nov. 4 and continuing until Dec. 4, unless prolonged further.

If Santa Barbara county reports less than six daily new cases per 100,000 people for two weeks, the indoor mask mandate will be lifted before Dec. 4. The county currently has a case rate of ten new cases per 100,000, according to the press release.

 Jason Tavarez, Westmont’s director of institutional resilience, confirmed that Westmont will continue to follow all Health Department orders and hopes students will strive to obey the law as well. 

“The new health order extends the current mask guidelines through the beginning part of December, so nothing changes; however, the County Department of Public Health has stated that its goal case rate to consider reducing some of the restrictions is less than six cases for two consecutive weeks,” said Tavarez. “County Health officials have also stated that our goal of less than six is one of the strictest in the state,” he continued.

Some students, knowing California’s COVID-19 laws are among the strictest, have expressed frustration with Santa Barbara’s order. First-year Westmont student Jack McGlasson commented: “I just wish they would pick a date and stick to it. Plenty of other states are already done with masks; why is it taking us so long?”

Others are more indifferent. First-year student Oliva Clark responded, “I don’t care that it was extended. Nothing really changes anyway, and at least this way, fewer people will have the chance to catch the virus.”

Once the mandate is lifted, Westmont will face the decision of how to implement mask restrictions on campus. Until then, the college will continue abiding by the Santa Barbara Public Health Department’s mandates.

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