Both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents in Los Angeles County will be required to wear face masks indoors again, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Thursday. The new mask mandate order, which goes into effect Saturday (July 17) at 11:59pm local time, comes as COVID-19 transmission rates are rising in the area.
"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," Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said at a press conference Thursday.
Over the last week, more than 1,000 cases have been reported each day, increasing the community transmission rate from moderate to substantial, Davis said. He said the county has seen more than 1.2 million cases since the pandemic began. The mask order is expected to remain in place until community transmission rates of the virus begin to improve, he said.
More than 400 people in the county are currently hospitalized with the virus, a week-to-week increase of about 130 people, Davis said. Ninety-six of the hospitalized people are currently in intensive care units, CBS Los Angeles reported.
The more transmissible and deadly Delta strain of the virus is responsible for 60% of cases in the nation. Scientists have said the approved COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are effective at protecting against known strains of the virus.
Davis urged eligible residents to get vaccinated, stating that "Becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19 remains the best protective action that people can take."
As of July 11, Davis said 10.7 million vaccine doses have been administered to residents of Los Angeles County and that more than 5 million people are fully vaccinated.
However, the doctor said that the county still is "not where we need to be" in regard to vaccination numbers, and that unvaccinated people are driving the rapidly increasing rates. He said that overall vaccination numbers are currently "disappointing."
Los Angeles County lifted mask mandates for fully vaccinated residents on June 15 as the state began a tiered system of reopening. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's current recommendations say that fully vaccinated individuals can forego masks in most situations, whether indoors or outdoors and regardless of the activity's size.