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Do I have to wear a mask inside?  Rules vary across California

About a third of counties in California are now urging even fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors as coronavirus cases continue to rise statewide.

In some areas, the renewed call for indoor face coverings applies to everyone. In at least one county, health officials say those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, or who live with someone who is, should consider masking themselves.

And in Los Angeles County, indoor hiding isn’t voluntary – it’s now the law.

The proliferation of new mask recommendations illustrates how quickly the trajectory of the pandemic has changed in the aftermath of California’s reopening on June 15, and how officials are increasingly turning to a familiar tool in hopes of attenuate transmission.

About 60% of Californians now live in a county that recommends or requires indoor masking for all individuals, including those vaccinated against COVID-19.

Here is an overview:

Mandatory masks

Of California’s 58 counties, only LA County has required masks to be worn indoors.

The cities of Pasadena and Long Beach, which have their own independent health services, have said they will follow suit.

LA County was at the forefront of the new push for wider indoor masking – recommending in late June that all residents wear masks in public indoor spaces, whether or not they have been vaccinated against COVID. -19.

Since then, 17 more counties have issued similar guidelines, many citing the proliferation of the highly infectious Delta variant as the reason.

This week alone, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Ventura and San Joaquin joined the list of counties asking even fully vaccinated people to wear face covers as a precaution inside places like the grocery stores, cinemas and retail outlets. .

Most of the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as Sacramento, Yolo and Fresno counties, now also recommend that people wear masks indoors.

Stanislaus County issued a more focused recommendation, saying, “If you or a member of your household are 65 or older, have risk factors for COVID-19 or have conditions or medications that lower your immune system, thus reducing your chances of developing immunity. vaccine, Public Health recommends wearing a mask indoors. “

Other places

Orange County, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have so far not announced any new recommendations on wearing the indoor mask.

What is the reason for the masking again?

Health officials characterized the renewed calls for hiding indoors as an effective but low-key tactic to curb coronavirus transmission, which increased rapidly after California reopened on June 15.

California has reported an average of 3,671 new cases per day over the past week, more than quadruple the number a month ago.

People who have been vaccinated have strong protection against even the Delta variant, but those who are not vaccinated are most at risk.

“This [masking] just level the playing field. It offers protection for everyone, ”LA County health worker Dr. Muntu Davis said last week.

Another increasingly urgent problem is the continued circulation of the Delta variant – which is said to be twice as transmissible as conventional coronavirus strains.

Since its presence in California was confirmed in April, Delta has quickly become the dominant strain in the state, accounting for 48.8% of all cases analyzed in June.


Technically, those who violate LA County’s new mask rules, or any other provision included in the county’s latest health ordinance, can be cited or fined.

Concretely, many health and law enforcement officials prefer to inform residents of the rules and urge them to comply rather than write tickets.

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his department “will not spend our limited resources and instead seek voluntary compliance” with the new rules.

County officials have also indicated that they will not take a punitive approach to the bare-faced scofflaws, with Davis saying, “We will continue to go out and educate. It’s not something we really want to have to do, in terms of quotes.

The Los Angeles Police Department is urging residents to abide by the new order, which went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday after a drastic increase in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

“The department continues to call on all Angelenos to respect the mask’s mandate, recognizing that the recent resurgence is troubling,” LAPD chief Michel Moore said on Monday. “These hospitalizations and loss of life are real. Our staff will wear masks in all public places, as well as in offices, and I ask all Angelenos to adhere to them. “

And after?

Authorities hope that masking in indoor public spaces will slow the spread.

It will take weeks to be sure. LA County officials said they could impose more restrictions if conditions worsen, but did not provide details.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the state was “committed to dealing with this latest surge in new cases”, but also “not to impose further restrictions.”

Despite decisions made locally, the California Department of Public Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that fully vaccinated people can do without masks in most situations, given the high level of protection. provided by injections.

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