Coronavirus: L.A. County reinstates indoor mask mandate amid spike in COVID-19 cases

LOS ANGELES — Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have announced that beginning Saturday, all people in the county will be required to wear masks while indoors, regardless of their vaccination statuses.

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The new order will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, officials said.

The announcement comes amid a spike in reported COVID-19 cases county-wide, and the continued threat posed by the quickly spreading delta variant.

“While emerging data affirms that fully vaccinated people are well protected from severe infections with Delta variants, people with only one vaccine (dose) are not as well-protected, and there is evidence that a very small number of fully vaccinated individuals can become infected and may be able to infect others,” county health officials said Thursday.

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“Given that slightly under 4 million residents in L.A. County are not yet vaccinated, the risk of increased spread of this variant within the County remains high.”

Health officials said that 69% of L.A. County residents who are aged 16 and older have so far been fully vaccinated. However, they added that since the state reopened its economy on June 15, dropping physical distancing restrictions and a stay-at-home order that had lasted for months, officials have seen the number of new COVID-19 cases reported rise more than sevenfold.

“We expect to keep masking requirements in place until we begin to see improvements in our community transmission of COVID-19,” Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County’s health officer, said in a statement. “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.”

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As of Wednesday, the last date for which data was available, nearly 1.2 million people in L.A. County have tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in over 23,000 deaths, according to health officials.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.7 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in California, according to numbers from the state’s health department. About 63,500 people have died of COVID-19 across the state, according to officials.

As of Friday morning, 33.9 million COVID-19 cases have been reported across the U.S., resulting in more than 608,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 189.1 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in over 4 million deaths.

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