LA County reports 1,827 new COVID infections as mask mandate approaches

LOS ANGELES (KABC) – A new mandate covering the face takes effect in Los Angeles County late Saturday night amid a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic that has seen local rates and hospitalizations skyrocket.

The new rule requires everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of their vaccination status and take effect at 23.59

The county reported 1,827 new cases of COVID-19 and a further 11 deaths on Saturday as health officials attributed the recent increase to the presence of the more infectious Delta variant and confusion of masked individuals whose vaccination status is unknown.

Saturday’s daily test positivity rate was 3.7%. On July 4, it was close to 1.5%, and on June 15, the test positivity was close to 0.5%.

The number of people hospitalized in Los Angeles County due to the virus jumped from 462 on Friday to 507, while the number of patients in intensive care remained at 103, according to state figures.

Mask Mandate: LA County is ordering facial coatings indoors again when COVID cases increase

The latest figures lifted the total sum from the entire pandemic to 1,266,227 cases and 24,579 deaths, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

“Given the increased mix among masked humans, where vaccination status is unknown, the millions of people still unvaccinated, and the increased circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant, we see a rapid increase in COVID-19 infection, ” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. ” The level of COVID-19 transmission we are currently experiencing is now leading to significant increases in serious illness and hospitalizations, and requires us to take immediate action to prevent erosion of our recovery effort.

“And while vaccinations are by far the most powerful tool we have, we are nowhere near herd immunity. As we continue our efforts to increase vaccination coverage and build confidence in vaccines, the simplest and most effective public health measure to add back is to demand For those of us who have already been vaccinated, we have been obliged for the last few months to continue wearing masks in many other public places, including in all public transport, ‘This was done in recognition of the fact that the vaccines, although extraordinarily effective, are not perfect and that we continue to have a commitment to reducing the risk as much as possible.’ ‘

Not everyone in the county is on board with the new mandate.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Friday that his deputies will not actively enforce the masking mandate and insists his department is underfunded. He also said that the requirement for vaccinated people to wear masks “is not supported by science and is contrary to US guidelines for disease control and prevention.”

County Superintendent Kathryn Barger, the lone Republican on the Supervisory Board with five members, also criticized the mandate for fighting for federal and state rules on masking. She also said the mask mandate would not help the county’s efforts “to emphasize the effectiveness of the vaccines and force unvaccinated residents to be vaccinated.”

Why is LA County reintroducing mask mandate? COVID positivity rate increased by 700% in one month

“By deviating from the state, we are creating confusion and disagreement at the local level, which is undermining public confidence and removing our primary messages, which should be to encourage individuals to be vaccinated urgently given the spread of the Delta variant,” Barger said.

Co-board members Hilda Solis, Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl have joined the mandate.

“The county has chosen a reasonable response, as almost everyone agrees that requiring proof of vaccination status before entering buildings is unrealistic,” Kuehl said. “This keeps companies open, but makes it less likely that unvaccinated people will just skip masks and put us all at risk. Until we can slow down the transmission of society again and get more Angelenos vaccinated, we all need to look up and avoid giving breeding grounds for even more varieties. ”

Hahn reiterated this sentiment, saying on Twitter: “Right now, unvaccinated people need to wear masks indoors – but they are not, and they are spreading this virus to other unvaccinated people.”

Solis said Saturday that the new rule on face clothing did not correspond to another lockdown.

“I want to emphasize that this requirement for an indoor mask does not prevent us from enjoying all the amazing activities we have available through the county reopening,” she said. “We can still go out and engage in indoor shopping and support our local restaurants through indoor dining, catching a great movie and more. ”

The masking mandate was announced Thursday by the county health officer Dr. Muntu Davis. “We are not where we need to be for the millions who are at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something would be too late given what we see now,” Davis said.

Davis said the number of virus spreads in the county has officially increased from moderate to significant, with infections five times more likely to occur among non-vaccinated residents.

Sheriff Villanueva does not enforce the county’s new mask order, claims ‘not backed by science’

The county has previously only recommended indoor masking of vaccinated people in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus and protect non-vaccinated residents. People who are unvaccinated have always been required to wear masks indoors, even though enforcement was left to individual business owners and was generally on the honor system.

The masking order remains in place “until we see improvements” in case of transmission, he said.

Asked if the county might consider reintroducing other health restrictions – such as capacity limitations and physical distance, Davis said: “Everything is on the table if things continue to get worse.”

The mandate means that customers will again be required to mask when entering a public indoor establishment, including retail stores, grocery stores, restaurants and workplaces. Davis said indoor dining will remain open, but customers will need to remain masked while not eating or drinking.

Meanwhile, a gym in Sierra Madre requires members to provide evidence of vaccination.

Beginning Monday, Sierra Health and Fitness only allows members who have been vaccinated. The owner said she is making the change to protect both members and workers.

“I have to do this because people trust me. We’re in health care and we have to keep everyone safe,” said owner Sandy Duvall. “We’ve never had an outbreak here, and I do not think we can move forward in the economy unless small businesses meet and do this.”

The city of Long Beach, which has its own health department separate from the county, announced Thursday night that it will adapt to the county and also require an indoor mask to wear for everyone. In a statement, Long Beach officials said the city has seen a 288% increase in average daily cases over the past two weeks. The city’s average daily rate for new cases has risen to 7.5 per. 100,000 inhabitants, up from an average of only one per. 100,000 inhabitants on June 15th.

Pasadena, which also has its own health agency, has not adapted to the county and will continue to only recommend indoor masking. But the city is monitoring “COVID rates in Pasadena and reviewing the possibilities for a mandate.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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