Palm Springs will align with state coronavirus guidelines starting Monday, City Manager Justin Clifton announced Thursday evening, resulting in the removal of mandates requiring masks be worn inside by vaccinated individuals and that proof of vaccination be presented for indoor restaurant dining.
Clifton was given authority by the City Council at its Feb. 10 meeting to decide when the requirements could be lifted. He was instructed to base his decisions on scientific data and other signals that he chose to monitor. COVID-19 data presented by city staff Thursday evening showed a much-improved situation in Palm Springs.
Clifton and Council members were informed during the City Council’s regular meeting that current COVID-19 levels in the city are at their lowest point since October and are lower than most other cities in Riverside County and the state. In addition, testing of the city’s wastewater shows there are an estimated 550 cases of coronavirus in the city. Just one month ago, there were an estimated 40,000 cases in the community.
During more than two years dealing with the pandemic, Palm Springs has reported more than 7,360 cases of COVID-19, ranking it seventh among the Coachella Valley’s nine cities. However, its 146 reported deaths are the second-most in the valley after Indio’s 272.
The data shows that cases in the city have generally aligned with those reported across the country in recent weeks, dropping significantly. They dropped 12% week-over-week at last report.
The state eased its restrictions earlier this month, allowing vaccinated individuals to remove their masks in all but some settings, including hospitals and public transportation. The state also mandates face coverings for unvaccinated people in indoor public settings, such as shops, gyms, bars, and movie theaters.
Also on Thursday, it was announced the city would recognize March 7 as COVID-19 Memorial Day, paying tribute to all those who have lost their lives and otherwise suffered during the pandemic.