LA County to reinstate mask mandate, require face masks indoors
LA County is requiring face masks effective Saturday night in response to the rising COVID-19 cases, a month after California fully reopened. (Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)
This post was updated July 18 at 6:29 p.m.
LA County is requiring face masks indoors effective Saturday at 11:59 p.m. in response to rising COVID-19 case rates and increasingly widespread virus variants.
The LA County Department of Public Health announced the reinstated mandate Thursday, which requires individuals to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
This is the first time masks have been required since California fully reopened June 15.
LACDPH previously recommended June 28 that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks indoors as a precaution in a press release. In response, UCLA reinstated the mask mandate for most indoor locations on campus July 2.
Thursday marked the seventh consecutive day of more than 1,000 new positive COVID-19 cases in LA County, according to a press release, a more-than-seven-times increase since reopening June 15. The test positivity rate was 3.7% as of Thursday, an increase from 2.3% the previous week and 0.5% on June 15.
Sixty-one percent of eligible county residents 16 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to the press release, but millions remain unvaccinated or ineligible to be vaccinated, including 1.3 million children under 12 years old.
More than 99% of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals, said LACDPH Director Barbara Ferrer in a statement Monday.
To date, no vaccinated patients have been admitted to a county-run hospital, said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the LA County Department of Health Services, in a board of supervisors meeting Tuesday.
“We continue to urge all eligible residents to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves and their family and friends,” said LA County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis in the press release. “Becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19 remains the best protective action that people can take if they are eligible for it.”
The delta variant is more transmissible and comprises nearly one-third of recent cases in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fully vaccinated individuals still have strong protection against the delta variant according to recent studies, although different studies report different efficacy rates.
The CDC has not updated its mask guidance, standing by its previous recommendation that fully vaccinated individuals can forgo masks in most settings.
LACDPH expects to continue requiring indoor mask use until the spread of COVID-19 in LA subsides, Davis said in the press release.
“Waiting for us to be at high community transmission level before making a change would be too late,” Davis said. “Masking indoors must again become a normal practice by all, regardless of vaccination status, so that we can stop the trends and level of transmission we are currently seeing.”