(CN) — As new cases of Covid-19 continue to creep back up statewide, Los Angeles County officials announced Thursday they will be reinstating an indoor mask mandate effective Saturday at 11:59 p.m.
The new masking order will apply to everyone in the county (with limited exceptions) — those vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. According to Dr. Mantu Davis, health officer for Los Angeles County, the county has seen more than 1,000 new cases per day over the past week, an 83% increase over the previous week, and there is “substantial community transmission.” Davis said he expects the new order will remain in place until community transmission begins to decline.
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late given what we’re seeing now,” Davis said Thursday at a press conference.
The recent rise in case numbers can be largely attributed to the spread of Covid-19’s newer, more transmissible Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy in larger-than-expected numbers of people across the state. Los Angeles County previously urged residents to continue wearing masks in public, but until Thursday they had resisted re-mandating anyone do so.
Mantu added that further measures may need to be taken if the county’s numbers don’t begin to decline fast enough.
“Anything is on the table if things continue to get worse, which is why we want to take action now,” he said.
Just as things were beginning to look up, case numbers once again took a turn for the worse with increasing numbers of Delta variant cases popping up around the state — meanwhile vaccine uptake has largely stagnated in recent weeks. One study found the Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the previously dominant strain of Covid-19, but researchers said a double-dose of the Pfizer vaccine remains 88% effective against the variant.
Other California counties are considering reimposing their own mask mandates as well, with officials in Sacramento and Yolo counties calling on their own residents to return to wearing masks in public — though they have yet to reimpose their own mandates.
“The drastic increase in cases is concerning — as is the number of people choosing not to get vaccinated,” said Sacramento County Public Health Officer Olivia Kasirye in a statement. “Our best protection against COVID-19 continues to be the vaccine. We urge all eligible residents to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves, and their family and friends.”
Several counties, including Alameda, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Sonoma, recommended Friday that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors.
“We are asking our residents to collectively come together again in this effort to stem the rising cases until we can assess how our hospital capacity will be impacted,” said San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip.
The California Department of Public Health also recommended everyone in California get vaccinated as soon as possible, which greatly reduces a person’s likelihood of getting seriously ill or ending up in the hospital even if they do contract the virus.
In a statement, the department told Courthouse News they “support the ability of local health jurisdictions to enact stricter local public health guidance that is tailored to the situation in their communities, as some counties have done. As we continue to see the real and aggressive impact of the Delta variant in rising case rates, we cannot stress enough how critical it is for eligible individuals to get vaccinated.”
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