California Says New Cars Must Be Zero Emission By 2035

Cars, SUVs, and other vehicles drive in traffic on the 405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles, California, on August 25, 2022. Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP
Cars, SUVs, and other vehicles drive in traffic on the 405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles, California, on August 25, 2022. Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP

 

California ruled Thursday that all new cars sold in America’s most populous state must be zero emission from 2035, in what was billed as a nation-leading step to slash the pollutants that cause global warming.

The widely touted move has been hailed by environmentalists, who hope it will prod other parts of the United States to quicken the adoption of electric vehicles.

The rules demand an ever-increasing percentage of new cars sold to California’s 40 million inhabitants produce no tailpipe pollutants, until their total ban in 13 years’ time.

“The timeline is ambitious but achievable: by the time a child born this year is ready to enter middle school, only zero-emission vehicles or a limited number of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) will be offered for sale new in California,” the California Air Resources Board said.

The board, which was tasked with finding a way to implement Governor Gavin Newsom’s order to transition the state’s automotive sector, said the health benefits would be significant.

“By 2037, the regulation delivers a 25 percent reduction in smog-causing pollution from light-duty vehicles.

“This benefits all Californians but especially the state’s most environmentally and economically burdened communities along freeways and other heavily traveled thoroughfares.”

From 2026 through 2040 the regulation is expected to result in 1,290 fewer cardiopulmonary deaths, 460 fewer hospital admissions for cardiovascular or respiratory illness, and 650 fewer emergency room visits for asthma, it said.

Popularity

California already accounts for the lion’s share of electric vehicles in the United States, with 1.13 million of them on the state’s roads — 43 percent of the nation’s total.

Their popularity has mushroomed in the years since they were seen as little more than novelty golf carts for tree-huggers content to drive no more than a few dozen miles (kilometers).

Ten years ago only two percent of new cars sold in the state were electric; that figure is now 16 percent, and Teslas and other premium offerings with a range of hundreds of miles are a common sight on roads around Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Still, the vehicles remain more expensive than their fossil fuel-powered equivalents and critics say only federal subsidies of up to $7,500 make them viable for many buyers.

But supporters say the incentives are necessary short-term supports that will fade away as increased adoption boosts economies of scale and drives down prices.

As the biggest auto market in the United States, one manufacturers cannot ignore, California has an outsized influence in effectively setting national standards.

Thursday’s ruling comes on the heels of a climate law signed last week by US President Joe Biden, which sets aside hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for clean energy programs.

Biden and his Democratic Party are rushing to make up climate policy ground they feel was lost under former president Donald Trump, who yanked the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord and reversed what many environmentalists viewed as already-weak progress in reducing the fossil fuel emissions that drive global warming.

Newsom, a leading light in the Democratic Party, who is rumored to have presidential ambitions, welcomed the ruling.

‘Groundbreaking’

“California now has a groundbreaking, world-leading… roadmap to reducing dangerous carbon emissions and moving away from fossil fuels,” he said.

The reduction in the number of petrol and diesel-powered cars on the roads is equivalent to “915 million oil barrels’ worth of emissions that won’t pollute our communities.”

“With the historic $10 billion we’re investing to accelerate the transition… we’re making it easier and cheaper for all Californians to purchase electric cars.”

In recent years jurisdictions around the world, notably in Europe, have set their sights on the polluting automobile sector.

Norway is aiming to have all new cars produce zero tailpipe emissions by 2025.

The UK, Singapore and Israel are eyeing 2030, while the European Union wants to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.

Human-caused global warming has already raised average temperatures around the planet, affecting weather patterns and worsening natural hazards like wildfires and storms.

Scientists say dramatic action is required to limit the damage, and point to curbing emissions from fossil fuels as key to the battle.

AFP

Onyekwere Becomes First Nigerian Woman To Win Commonwealth Games Discus Gold

Chioma Onyekwere. [email protected]

 

Reigning African Games and African Championships champion, Chioma Onyekwere, saved her best for the last major competition of the year to make history as the first Nigerian woman to win the Commonwealth Games gold in the Discus Throw event.

Onyekewere, 28, threw 61.70m in her fourth attempt to take the lead from home girl, Jade Lally, who led from the start of the competition with her opening throw of 57.33m.

The Nigerian, who opened with 55.82m, knew she needed more than the 58.19m she threw to win the African Championships gold last June in Mauritius.

She responded without success in the second round with a 56.42m effort, fouled the third attempt before swinging the discus to a personal season’s best mark of 61.70m, her second best career mark after the 63.30m personal best she threw last year at the CVEATC, Chula Vista in California, USA.

READ ALSO: [US Open] IRT Commander Tunji Disu Wins Silver Medal

Chioma Onyekwere and Obiageri Amaechi. [email protected]_Gazette

 

Team Nigeria made further history by producing two medallists in the Discus Throw event for the first time with reigning Nigerian champion, Obiageri Amaechi, winning the bronze medal with her 56.99m fifth round effort.

Onyekwere has now become the second Nigerian after Adewale Olukoju to win the Discus Throw title for Nigeria in the history of the championships.

Olukoju threw 62.62m to win in Auckland in 1990.

All focus will now shift to the men and women’s 100m semifinal on Wednesday, the men’s high jump, and the women’s shot put final.

Year’s Largest Fire Destroys California Homes

Flames burn to the Klamath River during the McKinney Fire in the Klamath National Forest northwest of Yreka, California, on July 31, 2022.  (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP)

 

The largest fire in California this year is forcing thousands of people to evacuate as it destroys homes and rips through the state’s dry terrain, whipped up on Sunday by strong winds and lightning storms.

The McKinney Fire was completely uncontained as it burned in Klamath National Forest in Northern California, CalFire said, spreading over more than 51,000 acres near the city of Yreka.

It is the largest wildfire so far this year in California, which has already battled several blazes this summer.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday, saying the fire had “destroyed homes” and “threatened critical infrastructure” after breaking out on Friday.

The fire was “intensified and spread by dry fuels, extreme drought conditions, high temperatures, winds, and lightning storms,” Newsom said in a statement.

More than 2,000 residents were under evacuation orders and some 200 under evacuation warnings, according to the California Office of Emergency Services, mostly in Siskiyou County.

“Surrounding areas should be ready to leave if needed. Please don’t hesitate to evacuate,” the Siskiyou County Sheriff tweeted.

Highway 96 and McKinney Creed Road southwest of the Klamath River were closed to the public, CalFire said.

Yreka resident Larry Castle told the Sacramento Bee newspaper that he and his wife had packed up a few possessions and their three dogs to leave the area for the night, as other fires in recent years had taught them the situation could turn “very, very serious.”

Nearly 650 people were working to douse the blaze as of Sunday, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group said.

Firefighting forces were sent from nearby Oregon to help containment efforts, the Oregon State Fire Marshal said, as the Klamath National Forest also deals with the Kelsey Creek Fire.

CalFire said the cause of the fire was still “under investigation.”

READ ALSO: First Grain Shipment Leaves Ukraine As Southern City Pounded


The ruins of the Oak Mobile Park are seen at the McKinney Fire in the Klamath National Forest northwest of Yreka, California, on July 31, 2022.  (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP)

 

The US Forest Service said “a heavy smoke inversion” had helped to limit the growth of the fire on Sunday, but also meant that firefighters’ aircraft were also “mostly grounded.”

Fire crews were working above Fort Jones and west of Yreka “to cut off the fire’s progress,” the USFS said.

The record-breaking blaze was sparked just days after the year’s previous largest fire raged in central California.

The Oak Fire near Yosemite National Park broke out in mid-July and spread rapidly, destroying 41 buildings and forcing thousands to evacuate.

California, which is facing a punishing drought, still has months of fire season ahead of it.

In recent years, California and other parts of the western United States have been ravaged by huge and fast-moving wildfires, driven by a warming climate.

Other parts of the world have also faced intense wildfires this year.

On Sunday, both Portugal and France were battling major forest fires, as temperatures rose sharply in Europe over the weekend.

In Portugal, a blaze broke out in the Mafra area, north of Lisbon, while in France at least four firefighters were seriously injured and motorways were closed.

Around 400 firefighters were drafted in to fight the blaze around 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Lisbon.

Also over the weekend, hundreds of firefighters in Germany battled a blaze in the east of the country, with four people injured, authorities said.

Scientists say climate change is making heatwaves around the world more frequent and more intense, increasing the risk of fires.

AFP

Thousands Evacuated As California Wildfire Grows

California Wildfires
 (Photo by Samuel Corum / AFP)

 

A fierce California wildfire expanded Sunday, burning several thousand acres and forcing evacuations as tens of millions of Americans sweltered through the scorching heat.

More than 2,000 firefighters backed by 17 helicopters have been deployed against the Oak Fire, which broke out Friday near Yosemite National Park, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) said in a report.

But two days after it began, the blaze has already consumed more than 15,600 acres (6,313 hectares) and remains zero per cent contained, the report said, adding that heat combined with low humidity would “hamper” efforts Sunday.

“Extreme drought conditions have led to critical fuel moisture levels,” according to CAL FIRE’s report.

Described as “explosive” by officials, the blaze has left ashes, gutted vehicles and twisted remains of properties in its wake, as emergency personnel worked to evacuate residents and protect structures in its path.

It has already destroyed 10 properties and damaged five others, with thousands more threatened.

More than 6,000 people had been evacuated, said Hector Vasquez, a CAL FIRE official.

“It was scary when we left because we were getting ashes on us, but we had such a visual of this billowing. It just seemed like it was above our house and coming our way really quickly,” one woman who had to be evacuated, Lynda Reynolds-Brown, told local news station KCRA.

“We started getting our stuff together, and that’s when I went back up the hill and looked and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ It was coming fast,” her husband Aubrey Brown told the station.

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County, citing “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property.”

In recent years, California and other parts of the western United States have been ravaged by huge and fast-moving wildfires, driven by years of drought and a warming climate.

Gore blasts ‘inaction’

Evidence of global warming could be seen elsewhere in the country, as 85 million Americans in more than a dozen states were under a weekend heat advisory.

The crisis prompted former vice president Al Gore, a tireless climate advocate, to issue stark warnings Sunday about “inaction” by US lawmakers.

Asked whether he believes US President Joe Biden should declare a climate emergency, which would grant him additional policy powers, Gore was blunt.

“Mother Nature has already declared it a global emergency,” he told ABC News talk show “This Week.”

And “it’s due to get much, much worse, and quickly,” he said separately on NBC.

But he also suggested that recent crises, including deadly heat waves in Europe, could serve as a wake-up call for members of US Congress who have so far refused to embrace efforts to combat climate change.

“I think these extreme events that are getting steadily worse and more severe are really beginning to change minds,” he said.

The central and northeast US regions have faced the brunt of the extreme heat, which is forecast to lessen somewhat on Monday.

“Searing heat will continue across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast tonight before the upper trough over Canada dips down into the region to moderate temperatures a bit tomorrow,” the National Weather Service said Sunday afternoon.

But not all regions are expected to cool down: temperatures of 100 or more degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) are forecast in the coming days across parts of eastern Kansas and Oklahoma into southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Not even the usually cool Pacific Northwest will escape the far-reaching heat, with high temperatures “forecast to steadily rise over the next few days, leading to the possibility for records to be broken,” the weather service added.

Cities have been forced to open cooling stations and increase outreach to at-risk communities such as the homeless and those without access to air conditioning.

Various regions of the globe have been hit by extreme heat waves in recent months, such as Western Europe in July and India from March to April, incidents that scientists say are an unmistakable sign of a warming climate.

-AFP

US Heatwave Soars As Fire Ravages Parts Of California

Cal Fire fire engines navigate Triangle Road as the Oak Fire moves through the area on July 23, 2022, near Mariposa, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

 

Tens of millions of Americans already baking in a scorching heatwave braced Saturday for record-setting temperatures to climb, while a major fire ravaged part of California.

The country’s central and northeast regions face the brunt of the extreme temperatures, which are not expected to peak until Sunday at the earliest and have sent public health officials scrambling.

More than a dozen states are under a heat advisory, with central US metropolitan areas such as Dallas and Oklahoma City expected to reach highs of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (above 38 degrees Celsius) for at least the next five days.

A heat emergency is meanwhile in effect for cities up and down the northeast coast, from Boston to Philadelphia to Washington.

Not even the usually cool Pacific Northwest will escape the far-reaching heat, with the region expected to face several days in the 90s next week.

The high temperatures, which demonstrate the threat of global warming, have already caused an uptick in emergency calls for heat-related illness.

Cities have meanwhile been forced to open cooling stations and increase outreach to at-risk communities such as the homeless and those without access to air conditioning.

“This is really one of the things that we recognize in Oklahoma — heat is the number one weather-related killer across the United States. It far surpasses any other” nature-related cause of death, Joseph Kralicek, director of the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency, told CNN.

Residents of the central US city were expecting temperatures to reach 103 degrees Fahrenheit Saturday and up to 106 degrees on Sunday and Monday.

The nation’s capital was predicted to reach temperatures at or near 100 degrees Fahrenheit Saturday, with New York not far behind.

– Fire conditions increased –

“Look for daytime max temps to eclipse the century mark in the Central Plains and record breaking high temps from the Central Plains to the Northeast today,” the National Weather Service said in a forecast.

“Sunday grows even hotter in the northeast,” it said.

The sweltering heat has increased the risk of blazes, such as the major Oak Fire, which broke out Friday in California near Yosemite National Park where giant sequoias have already been threatened by fire in recent days.

Spread over more than 6,555 acres (2,650 hectares), the Oak Fire has already destroyed ten properties and damaged five others. As of midday Saturday, it was 0 percent contained, according to California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In recent years, California and other parts of the western United States have been ravaged by huge, hot and fast-moving wildfires, driven by years of drought and a warming climate.

Severe thunderstorms are meanwhile expected in the Midwest Saturday, with the potential for damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes, the NWS said.

Various regions of the globe have been hit by extreme heat waves in recent months, such as Western Europe in July and India in March to April, incidents that scientists say are an unmistakable sign of climate change.

US Military Aircraft With Five Onboard Crashes In California

An image of the U.S. flag.
The U.S. flag.

 

A US military aircraft with five Marines on board crashed in southern California on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

There was no immediate word on casualties, but the military denied reports the aircraft had been carrying radioactive material when it came down near Glamis, just 20 miles (35 kilometers) from the Mexican border.

“We can confirm that an aircraft belonging to 3d Marine Aircraft Wing crashed near Glamis,” a spokesman told AFP.

“Five Marines were onboard the aircraft, and we are awaiting confirmation on the status of all members of the crew.

“Military and civilian first responders are on site. Contrary to social media rumors, there was no nuclear material on board the aircraft.”

READ ALSO: Gunmen Kill Mayor In Southern Mexico

The aircraft was identified as an MV-22B Osprey based at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton.

The Osprey is a so-called “vertical takeoff and landing” aircraft that has rotary wings which can be directed upward to give it the maneuverability of a helicopter, or forward to give it the range of a plane.

The US military has suffered a number of crashes with the aircraft, including an accident in Norway in March that left four Marines dead.

AFP

Streets Re-Opened After California Shooting Leaves Six Dead

Police officers work the scene on the corner of 10th and L street of a shooting that occurred in the early morning hours on April 3, 2022 in Sacramento, California. David Odisho/Getty Images/AFP
Police officers work the scene on the corner of 10th and L street of a shooting that occurred in the early morning hours on April 3, 2022 in Sacramento, California. David Odisho/Getty Images/AFP

 

Police investigating an apparent gun battle in California that left six dead and 12 wounded re-opened the streets on Monday, as the United States grappled again with deadly violence.

No one has been arrested after the worst mass shooting in Sacramento’s history, which appeared to have erupted following a fight in the downtown area as nightclubs were emptying around 2:00 am Sunday.

Sacramento Police said multiple shooters were involved and a stolen handgun had been recovered.

But detectives have given no information as to whether anyone was targeted or if the shooters were firing indiscriminately.

READ ALSO: Father Kills Three Children, Self In US Church Shooting

Video circulating on social media appeared to show some kind of brawl, followed by the sounds of gunfire and people running.

Police Chief Kathy Lester told reporters that officers on patrol nearby had been alerted by the sound of the gunshots, and arrived to find a large crowd and “multiple gunshot victims.”

Video footage of the immediate aftermath showed first responders tending to bloodied victims. The bodies of the dead lay nearby.

Three of those who died were women. All six have now been identified.

“It was just horrific,” said community activist Berry Accius, who arrived minutes after the shooting.

“Just as soon as I walked up you saw a chaotic scene, police all over the place, victims with blood all over their bodies, folks screaming, folks crying, people going, ‘Where is my brother?’ Mothers crying and trying to identify who their child was,” he told local broadcaster KXTV.

The shooting happened in the downtown area, just blocks from the state capitol and close to the venue where the NBA’s Sacramento Kings play.

‘We must act’

The Kings hosted the Golden State Warriors on Sunday evening, holding a moment of silence before the game.

Outspoken Warriors coach Steve Kerr said gun laws had to change if tragedies like this were to be avoided.

“It’s probably the ninth or 10th moment of silence I’ve experienced as coach of the Warriors when we mourn the losses of our people who have died in mass shootings,” he said, according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

“At some point, our government has to decide: Are we going to have some commonsense gun laws? It’s not going to solve everything, but it will save lives.”

President Joe Biden on Sunday added his voice to calls for action.

“America once again mourns for another community devastated. We must do more than mourn; we must act,” he said, reiterating his call for Congress to pass legislation to strengthen restrictions on guns.

California Governor Gavin Newsom described gun violence as a “crisis” for the country.

“We cannot continue to let gun violence be the new normal,” he said.

The mass casualty shooting is the latest in the United States, where firearms are involved in approximately 40,000 deaths a year, including suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.

Lax gun laws and a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms have repeatedly stymied attempts to clamp down on the number of weapons in circulation, despite greater controls being favored by the majority of Americans.

Three-quarters of all homicides in the US are committed with guns, and the number of pistols, revolvers and other firearms sold continues to rise.

More than 23 million guns were sold in 2020 — a record — on top of 20 million in 2021, according to data compiled by website Small Arms Analytics.

That number does not include “ghost” guns, which are sold disassembled, lack serial numbers, and are highly prized in criminal circles.

In June 2021, 30 percent of American adults said they owned at least one gun, according to a Pew survey.

 

AFP

Father Kills Three Children, Self In US Church Shooting

A father shot dead three of his own children Monday before turning the gun on himself in a US church, police said.

A fifth person also died in the shooting in Sacramento, California, though it was not clear if that person was related to what police said was a domestic incident.

All three children who died were under the age of 15, Sergeant Rod Grassmann of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office told reporters.

“At 5:07 this afternoon, we received a call that there was a shooting inside the church,” Grassmann said.

“We have found now there’s an adult male, a father who has shot and killed his three children under the age of 15,” he added.

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“And my understanding is that there is a fifth person that is also deceased. I don’t know if they are related.”

Police said they were not looking for anyone else involved in the shooting at The Church of Sacramento in the Arden Arcade area of the city.

“This is as far as I can see, at this point, a domestic violence-related sort of incident,” Grassmann said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom called the murders “senseless” in a Twitter posting.

“Another senseless act of gun violence in America –- this time in our backyard. In a church with kids inside,” he said.

“Absolutely devastating. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and their communities.”

Mass killings involving firearms are a distressingly common occurrence in the United States.

Lax gun laws and an insistence on the right to bear arms have repeatedly stymied attempts to clamp down on the number of weapons in circulation, despite greater controls being favored by the majority of Americans.

AFP

California City Votes To Become First In US To Mandate Gun Insurance

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 25, 2020 A customer handles an AR-15 at Jimmy’s Sport Shop in Mineola, New York.  (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

 

The city of San Jose voted Tuesday to pass a law that will compel gun owners to take out insurance to cover any damage caused by their weapon, a move its mayor said was the first of its kind in the United States.

The plan, voted on by the city council, will also require weapons owners in the Californian city to pay an annual fee that will fund a non-profit group to help victims of gun violence.

“Tonight San Jose became the first city in the United States to enact an ordinance to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, and to invest funds generated from fees paid by gun owners into evidence-based initiative to reduce gun violence and gun harm,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement on Twitter.

The proposed ordinance, which must pass a second reading on February 8 before it becomes law in August, is also intended to cut down the costs to taxpayers.

READ ALSO: Denmark Plans To Lift COVID-19 Restrictions On February 1

“We have seen how insurance has reduced auto fatalities over several decades, for example, by incentivizing safer driving and the purchase of cars equipped with airbags and antilock brakes,” Liccardo said ahead of the vote.

“Similarly, gun liability insurance available today on the market can adjust premiums to encourage gun owners to use gun safes, install trigger-locks, and take gun safety classes.”

Firearms are prevalent in the United States, where around 40 percent of adults live in a gun-owning household, according to the Pew Research Center.

Almost 23 million firearms were sold across the country in 2020 and 40,000 people die from gunshots annually.

Despite the horrific toll and the fact that a majority of Americans favor the tightening of gun control rules, repeated attempts to limit gun ownership have failed, with opponents arguing controls are an infringement of individual liberties.

A press release from San Jose city council said gun violence costs the city nearly $40 million a year, including for emergency police and medical response, health care, and investigations.

“While the Second Amendment protects every citizen’s right to own a gun, it does not require taxpayers to subsidize that right,” said Liccardo.

The $25 annual fee will help to fund programs aimed at reducing gun violence, as well as mental health counseling and addiction treatment.

Ahead of the vote, the National Foundation for Gun Rights, an advocacy group, described the proposed law as “a blatantly unconstitutional scheme.”

“This is just as unthinkable as imposing a ‘free speech tax’ or a ‘church attendance tax.’

“The National Foundation for Gun Rights is preparing a lawsuit to challenge this gun ownership tax in federal district court.”

California Twins Born In Different Years

Greenfield twins Aylin and Alfredo Trujillo were born just 15 minutes apart. Source: Natividad Medical Centre
Greenfield twins Aylin and Alfredo Trujillo were born just 15 minutes apart. Source: Natividad Medical Centre

 

A set of twins born 15 minutes apart in California have very different birthdays — one in 2021 and the other in 2022.

Alfredo Antonio Trujillo came into the world at 11:45 pm on New Year’s Eve in the city of Salinas.

A quarter of an hour later, on New Year’s Day, his sister Aylin Yolanda Trujillo was born.

READ ALSO: EU Bans Cancer Threat Chemicals In Tattoo Ink

The Natividad Medical Center, where the babies were delivered, said in a statement last week that some estimates suggest there is a one-in-two-million chance of twins being born in different years.

“It’s crazy to me that they are twins and have different birthdays,” the babies’ mother, Fatima Madrigal, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Dr. Ana Abril Arias described the births as “one of the most memorable deliveries of my career.”

“It was an absolute pleasure to help these little ones arrive here safely in 2021 and 2022.”

Big brother Alfredo tipped the scales at six pounds and one ounce (2.75 kilograms) while the baby of the family, Aylin, was a healthy five pounds and 14 ounces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says around 120,000 twins are born every year in the United States, representing roughly three percent of births.

 

AFP

California Reintroduces Mask Mandate For Indoor Public Spaces

In this photo taken on December 2, 2020 a face mask hangs with a table tennis bat cover at a park in Beijing. GREG BAKER / AFP
In this photo taken on December 2, 2020 a face mask hangs with a table tennis bat cover at a park in Beijing. GREG BAKER / AFP

 

Authorities in California said Monday they were reinstating mask mandates in all indoor public spaces to try to curb the resurgence of Covid-19 in recent weeks. 

The mask mandate, which will come into force Wednesday, applies to all individuals, whether vaccinated or not.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and other counties in California reintroduced the mask-wearing rule locally several months ago.

But other counties, such as Orange and San Diego, which are very heavily populated, had stuck with state-wide rules that masks only needed to be worn in certain public spaces such as airports, hospitals or schools but not in shops, restaurants or cinemas.

California’s Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases had prompted the new rule. There has been a 47 percent increase in cases since the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Reports Two More COVID-19 Deaths, 385 Fresh Infections

The number of new daily cases of coronavirus in California has risen from 9.6 per 100,000 to 14 per 100,000 during that time. Ghaly said that wearing a mask could help prevent a repeat of last winter’s high rates of infection and death.

“This is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and can work,” Ghaly said. “As we look at the evidence that masks do make a difference, even a 10 percent increase in indoor masking can reduce case transmission significantly.”

The mask mandate will remain in place until January 15.

California has also clamped down on unvaccinated people wishing to attend gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an enclosed space. Unvaccinated attendees will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken less than 24 or 48 hours (depending on the type of test) earlier, as opposed to 72 hours previously.

California’s announcement came the same day that similar restrictions were imposed in New York City.

Five Missing As US Navy Helicopter Crashes Off California Coast

File: (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP)

 

Search and rescue operations were underway for five crew members missing after a US Navy helicopter crashed into the sea off the coast of California, the US Pacific Fleet said on Tuesday.

One crew member had been rescued but five were missing, the navy fleet said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Climate Disasters Surge Fivefold In 50 Years, Says UN

The MH-60S helicopter took off from the USS Abraham Lincoln during “routine flight operations” about 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego at 4:30 pm (2330 GMT), the fleet said.

“Search and rescue operations are ongoing with multiple Coast Guard and Navy air and surface assets,” it added.

AFP