Los Angeles County to require masks indoors, even for the vaccinated

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CBS News 16 July, 2021 - 10:39am 22 views

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"Masking indoors must again become a normal practice by all, regardless of vaccination status, so that we can stop the trends and level of transmission we are currently seeing," Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said at a press conference Thursday. 

Over the last week, more than 1,000 cases have been reported each day, increasing the community transmission rate from moderate to substantial, Davis said. He said the county has seen more than 1.2 million cases since the pandemic began. The mask order is expected to remain in place until community transmission rates of the virus begin to improve, he said.

Wearing a mask indoors with others reduces the risk of both getting & transmitting the virus. We’re requiring masking for everyone while indoors at public settings & businesses, regardless of vaccination status so that we can stop the increased level of transmission we're seeing. pic.twitter.com/xmr77qsmBv

More than 400 people in the county are currently hospitalized with the virus, a week-to-week increase of about 130 people, Davis said. Ninety-six of the hospitalized people are currently in intensive care units, CBS Los Angeles reported. 

The more transmissible and deadly Delta strain of the virus is responsible for 60% of cases in the nation. Scientists have said the approved COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are effective at protecting against known strains of the virus.

Davis urged eligible residents to get vaccinated, stating that "Becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19 remains the best protective action that people can take." 

As of July 11, Davis said 10.7 million vaccine doses have been administered to residents of Los Angeles County and that more than 5 million people are fully vaccinated.

However, the doctor said that the county still is "not where we need to be" in regard to vaccination numbers, and that unvaccinated people are driving the rapidly increasing rates. He said that overall vaccination numbers are currently "disappointing." 

Los Angeles County lifted mask mandates for fully vaccinated residents on June 15 as the state began a tiered system of reopening. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's current recommendations say that fully vaccinated individuals can forego masks in most situations, whether indoors or outdoors and regardless of the activity's size. 

Tori B. Powell is a breaking news reporter at CBS News. Reach her at tori.powell@cbsinteractive.com

Copyright © 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.

Read full article at CBS News

LA County residents react to return of mask mandate

FOX 11 Los Angeles 16 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

Los Angeles to require masks indoors amid Covid spike

CNBC Television 16 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

Los Angeles County reinstates indoor mask order for EVERYONE regardless of vaccination status

Daily Mail 16 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

By Mary Kekatos Acting U.S. Health Editor For Dailymail.Com and Associated Press

The nation's largest county is reinstating its indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status due to a rapid and sustained increase in COVID-19 cases.  

Los Angeles County officials announced that the order will go into effect at 11.59pm on Saturday, July 17.

'This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,' Dr Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County Health Officer said at a virtual press conference, on Thursday. 

Davis didn't go into full detail what he said would be some exceptions but said for example, people could still go out to eat and take off their masks only while eating and drinking.

The move comes following the county recording more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases every day for the last seven days.

The rise in cases is despite nearly 70 percent of residents in the county above age 16 receiving at least one vaccine dose, according to health department data.

It comes amid the spread of the Indian 'Delta' coronavirus variant, which has been sweeping across California and now makes up nearly three-quarters of all new infections in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County is reinstating its indoor mask order for everyone, regardless of vaccinations status a month after California dropped its mask mandate. Pictured: Basketball fans during a playoff game between the LA Clippers and the Utah Jazz, June 2021

Dr Muntu Davis, health officer for the county, said the order will go into effect at 11.59pm on Saturday during a press conference on Thursday (above)

Cases have risen from about 400 per day in mid-June to more than 1,000 per day and the test positivity rate has risen from 0.5% to 3.79%  

Requirements for mask swill be similar to the rules that were in place before California relaxed its rules on June 15.

Since then, the average number of cases has risen 150 percent from about 400 per day to more than 1,000 per day, the highest numbers seen since March.

The test positivity rate has also increase from 0.5 percent to 3.79 percent.

Hospitalizations are also trending upward, doubling from an average of 200 COVID-19 patients hospitalized to around 400 patients.

'We took a chance in terms of lifting the physical distancing requirements as well as the capacity limits. We changed the masking at the time,' Davis said.

'We felt it was reasonable to do given the level of community transmission that we had at that moment. But this is not the same situation. We're in a very different situation. This is not the same as what it was June 15.' 

Currently. 69.4 percent of Los Angeles County residents aged 16 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 61 percent are fully vaccinated. 

However, daily vaccinations have fallen from an average of more than 86,000 per day in early April to around 2,000 per day in July, health department data show.

What's more, vaccinations for those between ages 12 and 17 slightly ticked up in mid-May after Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine was approved for teenagers, but daily rates have been declining since late June.

'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,' Davis said.

Meanwhile, in Northern California, at least 59 residents at a homeless shelter have tested positive for the virus, half of whom were vaccinated, health officials said.

Of those infected at the shelter in Santa Rosa, 28 were fully vaccinated, Dr Sundari Mase, Sonoma County's health officer, said Wednesday. 

Health officials blame the spread of the Indian 'Delta' variant, which makes up about 70% of all samples sequenced, according to health officials

Health department data show 69.4% of residents aged 16 and older receiving at least one shot and 61% fully vaccinated, but daily vaccinations have fallen from 86,000 per day to 2,000 per day

Officials were reviewing an additional 26 possible positive cases.

Of the 59 people with confirmed infections at Samuel L Jones Hall, nine were hospitalized, including six who were fully vaccinated and had 'multiple, significant' underlying health conditions, including diabetes and pulmonary disease, health officials said. 

Four have since been discharged, and five remain hospitalized.

Officials said that fewer than half of the 153 residents had received at least partial vaccination and they do not know whether the outbreak started with a vaccinated or unvaccinated resident.

'We know congregate settings are at much higher risk,' Mase said. 

'We also know there is a very high proportion of unvaccinated individuals that were in this setting.'

Most of the 69 vaccinated residents had received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson dose but Mase said it was hard to determine whether that was a factor in the outbreak.

The outbreak is only the second time the coronavirus has been detected at Sam Jones. 

There was a smaller cluster of cases in January during the peak of the pandemic, said Jennielynn Holmes, head of homelessness services at Catholic Charities in Santa Rosa, which manages the shelter.

The shelter first became aware of the most recent outbreak on July 2, when it reported 20 positive cases.

'Something is different. This is different than what we´ve seen the entire pandemic,' Holmes said.

Holmes and city officials had said last week the outbreak was caused by the delta variant, which is far more contagious than the original strain of the virus. 

County officials said they had not confirmed that and need more time to review the infections.

Clarissa Millarker, a Sam Jones resident since March, said that prior to the outbreak, shelter staff had been lax in enforcing health protocols, particularly masking.

'I feel like it's entirely likely that I'm going to turn up infected,' Millarker, who is vaccinated, told The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa.

Millarker said staff have since ramped up sanitation, been more vigilant about masks and started testing every few days. Still, there is confusion and anger over how the situation was handled by shelter operators, she said.

'People are upset, and they're right to be,' she said.

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