Los Angeles County Will Mandate Masks Indoors to Combat Delta

Public health officials in the county had already been urging residents to wear masks indoors. The mandate will begin Saturday night, just before midnight.

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Los Angeles County will require masks to be worn indoors as Delta variant spreads.

In Los Angeles County, the Delta variant accounts for nearly half of all variants genetically sequenced.Credit…Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

July 15, 2021, 5:41 p.m. ET

Los Angeles County announced Thursday that it will require masks to be worn inside regardless of vaccination status, as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads throughout California.

Public health officials in the county had already been urging residents to wear masks indoors. The mandate will begin Saturday night, just before midnight.

The Delta variant is extremely contagious, scientists say, and may cause more severe illness, though vaccinated people are generally protected. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, has described it as “the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19.”

The C.D.C. says that the variant is now responsible for over half of all new cases in the United States. While cases are rising nationally, overall, the average numbers of new virus cases and deaths, as well as hospitalizations, are significantly down from the devastating peaks during previous national surges.

Daily case numbers have increased at least 15 percent over the last two weeks in 49 states, including 19 states that are reporting at least twice as many new cases a day. Full-fledged outbreaks have emerged in a handful of places with relatively low vaccination rates, including Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Nevada.

Some experts have said they didn’t think the Delta variant was a particular threat in Los Angeles, where huge swaths of the population have already been infected with the virus, and vaccination rates are relatively high.

Still, other experts have noted that there are millions of Californians — including children and Black and Latino essential workers — who have not yet been vaccinated.

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