Los Angeles to reinstate indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status

New order marks major turn for most populous county in the US, which is also largely vaccinated

Workers and customers wear masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic inside a shoe store, in Los Angeles, California. AP
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Starting Saturday night, Los Angeles County will reinstate its face mask mandate for indoor spaces amid rising coronavirus cases caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

“Masking indoors must again become a normal practice by all, regardless of vaccination status, so they can stop the trends and level of transmission we’re currently seeing,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr Muntu Davis said in a news conference on Thursday.

The new mandate comes as more than 1,000 cases per day were recorded over the last seven days.

The number of people in hospitals in the county has been steadily increasing, reaching the highest level since April.

The surge in cases and hospital admissions are worrying amid a high rate of vaccinations in the nation's most populous county.

At least 61 per cent of people over the age of 16 years old in Los Angeles County are fully vaccinated, and 69 per cent have received at least one dose.

“Anything is on the table if things continue to get worse,” Dr Davis told a reporter who asked whether other coronavirus restrictions may return to the city.

Today's numbers are still drastically lower from when the county became the national epicentre of the pandemic during the winter surge, with healthcare centres overwhelmed and officials recording over 10,000 daily infections.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” Dr Davis said, declaring the region is experiencing “substantial community transmission” — a step below the “high transmission” level.

The health department says it will release more information on the mandate, including any possible exceptions, before it goes into effect Saturday.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 11:28 AM