Los Angeles Mask Mandate Reinstated Amid Surge In COVID Cases

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People wearing face masks at an outdoor mall in Los Angeles.
Residents are again required to wear face masks in public places regardless of vaccination status.

Los Angeles County residents are again required to wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status — a new mandate that health officials hope will reverse the latest spikes in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The rule went into effect late Saturday for the nation’s largest county, home to 11 million people, where a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases is led by the highly transmissible delta variant.

California has seen a steady rise in virus cases since the state fully reopened its economy on June 15 and did away with capacity limits and social distancing.

San Francisco Bay Area health officials last week urged residents to again wear masks inside public buildings, offices or businesses regardless of whether they are vaccinated. 

The counties of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa and Sonoma and the city of Berkeley stopped short of making face coverings a requirement.

Los Angeles County reported a caseload of 1,635 on Sunday — the 10th straight day with more than a thousand new cases. On June 15, when the state reopened, county health officials reported just 210 new cases.

More than 525 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in LA County on Saturday, the highest number since April 14. There were four new virus-related deaths reported Sunday.

LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger came out in opposition to the new mask mandate, saying by deviating from the state rules “we create confusion and disagreement at the local level, which hinders public trust.”

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Friday his deputies will not actively enforce the mandate, saying requiring vaccinated people to wear masks “is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.