Well, that was fast! Alameda County is rescinding its mask mandate, effective Saturday, June 25.
Per the LA Times:
Three weeks after becoming the first California county to reinstitute a mask mandate in most indoor public settings amid climbing coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Alameda County has rescinded the order — citing improving conditions.
The move, effective at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, coincides as the San Francisco Bay Area’s second most populous county progresses from the high to medium COVID-19 community transmission level as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So that means no chance of wearing a mask on exam day, right? Not so fast. LA County estimated that it would reinstitute a mask mandate in late June. Then that estimate moved to early July due to lagging reporting during the Memorial Day weekend. Now, the estimate is mid-July. Per the LA Times:
Health officials in Los Angeles County have said they would reimpose a public indoor mask mandate should the region fall in the high COVID-19 community level for two consecutive weeks. That category, the worst on the CDC’s three-tier scale, indicates not only significant community transmission but also that hospital systems may grow strained by coronavirus-positive patients.
Based on current hospitalization trends, L.A. County would likely not reach that category until mid-July.
However, that projection is “based on that assumption of a continued rate of increase that doesn’t change, and that’s really impossible to predict,” said Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that we may level off and, in the best of all worlds, we will begin to see a decline in hospital admissions sooner rather than later,” he told reporters Thursday. “But it is hard to predict.”
Hmmm… “must be in the high COVID-19 community level for two consecutive weeks.” “Not reach that category until mid-July”.
So what does the Cal Bar do? Are we going to escape scot-free? Or will there be an announcement of a mask mandate in LA County and prompt the Cal Bar to mandate masks days before the bar exam? Who knows?
For the second consecutive week, the Cal Bar issued a Friday email and noted that masks are optional for the exam.
I still recommend that students wear masks for 3- to 3-1/2 hours a day. If you see an email from the Cal Bar on Friday, July 22, and you see that masks are still optional, then laugh as you take it off (or if you are inclined to keep it on, you can). But if LA County comes back with a mask mandate on July 20, or 22, or 24, and the Cal Bar is forced to email you that masks are mandatory, what will you do? Would you prefer to have practiced wearing a mask for hours at a time for a month? Or have no recent experience with it, and touch your mask 70 times over a three-hour period, and be super distracted?
I don’t know what the final answer is here. Do you? Would you prefer to have a plan B, just in case?
Tread carefully, friends. Good luck to you as continue your preparation for the exam.