With COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant continuing to decline, California public health officials announced Monday that the state’s universal mask mandate for indoor public places will be allowed to expire next week.

Santa Barbara County has its own indoor mask mandate that is in effect through March 3. 

“The current hospital census is still over capacity, but the dramatic surge in cases and hospitalizations due to the highly infectious Omicron variant over the last two months has declined significantly,” the state Department of Public Health stated on its website. “Californians are also increasingly knowledgeable about how to protect themselves and their loved ones with effective masks when there may be risk of COVID-19 exposure.”

Based on those factors, state officials said the universal indoor public masking requirement that was reinstated on Dec. 15, 2021, will be allowed to expire next Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Masks will still be required in indoor public settings for people who are not vaccinated.

Masks also will be required on public transit, and in K-12 schools and child-care centers, healthcare settings, jails and prisons, homeless shelters, and long-term care centers.

Santa Barbara County has its own health officer orders regarding masking in indoor public places that will stay in effect after the state order ends. 

Meanwhile, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported a total of 592 new COVID-19 cases in the county on Saturday and Sunday.

Due to a system upgrade of the state database, the county’s COVID-19 data for Monday was delayed and will be reported retroactively on Tuesday.

Cases are continuing to decrease, as a total of 2,462 cases were reported in the week ending Sunday, compared to 5,869 cases the previous week.

That’s a decrease of more than 64%.

According to the county’s Community Data Dashboard, 474 cases were reported on Saturday, and 118 COVID-19 cases were reported Sunday.

Hospitalizations also have decreased in the county since Friday, when there were 118 patients being treated in local hospitals.

As of Sunday, that number was down to 102 patients, 17 of whom were being treated in intensive-care units.

Of the new cases reported over the weekend, 292 were in the Santa Maria Valley and 95 were in the Lompoc Valley.

The Santa Barbara area reported 63 new cases, and the Goleta Valley logged 43 cases.

Isla Vista accounted for 36 cases and the Santa Ynez Valley and the Montecito-Summerland-Carpinteria area each reported 19 cases each.

The Public Health Department reported two new COVID-19 cases in the Lompoc Federal Prison, and 23 cases were pending geographic location.

As of Sunday, Santa Barbara County has had a total of 81,073 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began and 2,053 cases are currently considered still infectious.

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at sguentz@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.