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Indoor Mask Mandate In Effect As COVID 19 Cases Climb In LA County

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Due to the climbing numbers of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, residents are now having to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The re-introduction of the mask mandate is due to the spike in cases. Over the last week, the county had recorded more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day, which local health experts coining the streak as a "substantial community transmission."

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On Sunday, the county health department reported 1,635 new cases, 4 deaths and 507 hospitalizations.

"I mean, I'm happy to comply for the same reason I took the vaccine to begin with, which is to kind of protect the people around me, and so if that's what it takes at this point, that's what I'll keep doing," one southland resident told CBSLA's Brittney Hopper.

For business owners, it means putting "masks required" signs back up, with some fearing how their bottom line will be affected and the hassle of policing customers.

"I don't think it's going to affect business at this moment. I would say if it's prolonged, what worries me is the fact that they're going back on masks and I hope that they don't retroactively bring back more restrictions," a business owner said.

As for medical professionals, they too are split on the mask mandate.

"We know that a mask mandate will slow down the rise in cases, without question," Dr. Jeff toll, an internal medicine physician, said, "But to what end?"

Dr. Daniel Moghadam said that the science doesn't make any sense.

"Scientifically it doesn't make any sense. You're going into a closed-air environment and you're taking your mask off and sitting down. So, what are you really protecting by having your masks on when you're walking into the waiting area of the restaurant and taking them off," he said.

LA County health leaders, however, said there was no choice as the data showed an increasing number of new daily cases and test positivity rates. Most experts credit the highly contagious Delta variant for the spike in cases, primarily among the unvaccinated.

"This is an all-hands-on-deck moment," said Dr. Muntu Davis, a public health officer for the county, during a virtual news conference earlier in the week.

The mandate will require those going to churches, restaurants, and into other businesses to wear masks indoors. The move comes nearly a month after the state's economy fully reopened.

Long Beach's health department will follow suit with LA County. Pasadena officials continue to only recommend masks indoors, with Orange County, San Bernardino County and Riverside County going with no mask mandate at this time.

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July 18, 2021. (CBSLA)

As for enforcement, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said deputies will not enforce the new mandate and is asking the public for voluntary cooperation.

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