Indoor Mask Mandate Returns To Los Angeles County At 11:59 PM On Saturday
Women wearing facemasks exit a shopping mall where a sign is posted at an entrance reminding people of the mask requirement Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall on June 12, 2020 in Arcadia, California.
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has modified its COVID-19 health order, reinstating a mask mandate for indoor public settings effective at 11:59 pm on Saturday, regardless of vaccination status.

KFI News reported the breaking news on Thursday afternoon shortly after county health officer Dr. Muntu Davis made the announcement during a virtual briefing.

According to a report from KFI’s Steve Gregory: “Davis says it’s easier for everyone to do the same thing, so the order was modified to level the playing field because so many people in L.A. County have not been vaccinated. Davis said if cases do not come down, other more restrictive measures could be implemented.”

“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.

Health officials said the new order is “similar to masking requirements in place prior to June 15,” with some exceptions. It comes as the county reported 1,537 new cases on Thursday, the seventh consecutive day the department has recorded more than 1,000. On Wednesday, authorities had reported 398 hospitalizations of people diagnosed with COVID-19, up from 275 the previous week.

“Anything is on the table if things continue to get worse, which is why we want to take action now,” Davis told reporters on Thursday.

The order will remain “in place until we begin to see improvements,” he added, also describing the modification as “the least limiting in terms of business operations.”

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported:

Still, Davis said, the health order is going into place not necessarily to protect people who are fully vaccinated, but because there’s too much room for error when allowing some people to go maskless.

“I don’t think, in general, that self-attestation is actually good in” this circumstance, he said.

“There may be some people who are unvaccinated and don’t want to make that known that they’re unvaccinated,” Davis added, “and that just puts others at risk.”

As far as enforcement is concerned, Davis said the county will pursue the same strategies it employed earlier in the pandemic, meaning officials will use an education-first approach. But it’s unclear what the mandate will look like in places like bars, where drinking precludes the use of a face covering but people are still allowed to mingle; county officials did not respond to a request for comment on that scenario.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “An uptick in cases, combined with the presence of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus, was behind L.A. County’s urging in late June that all residents wear masks in public indoor spaces.”

L.A. County is the most populous in the nation, with more than ten million residents. Since the pandemic began, county officials have identified 1,262,578 positive cases and 24,566 deaths.

Related: Pop-Up Clinic In California To Offer ‘Joints for Jabs’ Vaccination Incentive

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