Mask mandate: Nevada County Public Health issues order requiring masks indoors in public spaces

Nevada County’s Public Health Department announced Wednesday that county Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann had issued an order requiring that all individuals, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, wear face coverings indoors in public settings and businesses.

The order is set to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. today.

Kellermann said this was intended to allow enough time for businesses and other indoor public settings to come into compliance with the order’s requirement that they post clearly visible signage communicating the mask requirement to their patrons.

Explaining the factors motivating the order, Kellermann said Wednesday that Nevada County’s case rate has risen to an extent far greater than what once would have placed the county in the most restrictive tier of the now retired Blueprint for a Safer Economy system, meaning that businesses, schools, and public events would previously have been under the state’s strictest set of restrictions.

As of Wednesday, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, Nevada County’s seven-day average for cases per 100,000 residents is 58.8. Within the former system, the most restrictive tier was applied to counties with an adjusted case rate greater than 10.

“So, from my perspective, we want to keep our businesses open and we want to keep the schools open, and we’ve made the commitment to do that, and so we ask people to be responsible if that’s the case,” said Kellermann.

In addition to rising local case rates, the order issued Wednesday notes increasing test positivity and high numbers of hospitalizations, attributing these largely to the Delta variant, which it describes as highly contagious and posing an increased risk of hospitalization relative to the original virus.

The order issued Wednesday also stated that it was strongly recommended that all individuals also wear face coverings when outdoors in crowded settings, and clarified that the state’s mask requirements for schools applies to all schools — private or public — and settings in which more than one household gathers for the purposes of education.

On determining how long this order will be in effect, Kellermann said Wednesday that he and other local health officials review the relevant statistics — listed in the order as including COVID-19 case rates, percent positivity, hospitalization, and circulation of variants of concern — every day.

While no absolute threshold or date for the order’s expiration has been given at this time, according to Kellermann, factors in consideration will include rates of the virus dropping and the hospital being less impacted.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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