Los Angeles Urges Masks for Indoor Public Places Regardless of Vaccination Status

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, CBS Evening News

Health officials in Los Angeles County are strongly recommending that people wear masks indoors in public places — regardless of their vaccination status — to help prevent the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19. 

In a press release Tuesday, the public health department advised individuals wear masks when inside retail or grocery stores, theaters, entertainment venues and workplaces where people’s vaccination statuses are unknown.

“Until we better understand how and to whom the Delta variant is spreading, everyone should focus on maximum protection with minimum interruption to routine as all businesses operate without other restrictions, like physical distancing and capacity limits," the department said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the delta strain is now responsible for one in every five new infections across the country, up from one in every 10 two weeks ago. 

After emerging in India late last year, the delta variant has since spread to more than 80 countries and quickly has become the dominant strain in the areas it has reached. Public health officials expect that will be the case in the US by mid-July and could cause a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, according to

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Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the delta variant is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain yet and that it will “pick off” the most vulnerable people, especially in places with low vaccination rates. 

The WHO is continuing to urge people to wear masks as cases of the delta variant spike worldwide. 

In the US, certain regions appear to be more affected than others when it comes to the variant.

According to the CDC, the delta variant is fast becoming dominant in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming — all states with higher levels of unvaccinated people.

Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer said, “While COVID-19 vaccines provide very effective protection preventing hospitalizations and deaths against the delta variant, the strain is proving to be more transmissible and is expected to become more prevalent.”

“Mask wearing remains an effective tool for reducing transmission, especially indoors where the virus may be easily spread through inhalation of aerosols emitted by an infected person,” Ferrer said.

The updated guidance comes two weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom reopened California and lifted the statewide mask mandate.

Recommendations from the CDC, as well as California state health officials, say that vaccinated people in certain indoor public settings do not need to wear masks. Unvaccinated people are still encouraged to mask up while in public.

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