One month since Los Angeles County joined the rest of California in lifting almost-all coronavirus restrictions on June 15, the county announced that it will reinstate a mask mandate in indoor public spaces on Saturday.
The reversal — which will apply regardless of vaccination status for residents of the nation’s largest county —comes amid a nation-wide increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the more contagious Delta variant. According to county health officer Muntu Davis, there have been over 1,000 new cases every day for a week, which represents “substantial community transmission.” The new rule will apply throughout the sprawling county, except for Long Beach and Pasadena, which operate independent public health departments.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” Davis added, stating that the order will be in place until ” we begin to see improvements” that dampen community transmission. The order puts Los Angeles in a difficult position, considering that California’s recommendations on masks has not changed; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also states that vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear face coverings indoors. Nevertheless, the California Department of Public Health issued a statement to the Los Angeles Times in support of “local health departments, like Los Angeles County, making stricter policies based on the conditions in their community.”
The vaccination rate in Los Angeles County is above the national average, with 69 percent of residents over 16 having received at least one dose and 61 percent fully vaccinated. The national rates are at 55.8 percent of all Americans having received one dose and 48.3 percent fully vaccinated. Public health officials are urging those who have not yet sought out a shot to do so, with the Delta variant spreading at an alarming rate in the U.S. According to data from Johns Hopkins, the seven-day average of positive tests has doubled to over 24,000 in less than a month.