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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) issued steps to adhere to the new county-wide coronavirus health order that requires both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents to wear masks beginning Saturday.
Just a month ago, Santa Clarita and the rest of L.A. County celebrated a long-awaited reopening by lifting all business and public space restrictions, marking the satisfactory progress made in the fight against COVID-19.
As of July 17, the coronavirus has surged in cases with further threat of the Delta variant, causing L.A. County to defend itself through a reinstatement of the mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
“Nearly two weeks after the Fourth of July holiday and one month after the June 15 reopening, transmission of COVID-19 in L.A. County has rapidly increased to very concerning levels,” according to a statement from Public Health. “This is due to the presence of the more infectious Delta variant and the intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown.”
Public Health confirmed 1,817 new cases of COVID-19 since July 4, a “four-fold increase from the 457 cases seen on July 4 and an eight-fold increase from the 210 cases seen on June 15.”
Beginning Saturday night at 11: 59 p.m., all L.A. County residents are required to wear masks inside public indoor spaces including the workplace, regardless of vaccination status to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Some exceptions apply, similar to the masking requirements in place prior to the June 15 reopening, including exceptions for children under the age of two, for those with certain medical conditions or disabilities that prevent masking, and for those whose job doesn’t permit masking, according to Public Health.
See Related: L.A. County To Reinstate COVID-19 Mask Mandate Indoors
In cases where an individual’s job does not permit masking, full proof of vaccination must be given to the employer or must be tested for COVID-19 twice per week. Employees may only remove their mask upon performing their designated task that does not require masking.
The order is expected to allow indoor restaurant dining, although people are required to keep their masks on when they’re not eating or drinking, according to Public Health.
Masks are also required while attending indoor mega events with crowds larger than 5,000 people as well as while attending outdoor mega events with a crowd of 10,000 people or more. Masks are also expected to be required in concourses and concession stands where 50 percent of the structure has adjacent impermeable walls, according to the order.
“Because of the alarming increase of COVID-19 infection and the very real health risks to the almost 4 million people in L.A. County who have not been or are not eligible to be vaccinated, including 1.3 million children under 12 years of age, the Los Angeles County Health Officer Order was modified to require masking for everyone while indoors, regardless of vaccination status to prevent increased COVID-19 spread,” read a statement from Public Health.
Besides the re-implementation of the mask mandate, business capacities are not expected to change as the new health order takes a more lenient approach compared to the regulations prior to the reopening on June 15.
The newest order puts the county at odds with Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, both of which stand by the idea that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors.
“I am concerned by rising cases, but I don’t believe the mask mandate will help efforts to stress vaccine efficacy and compel unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated,” said LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger in a tweet posted Friday. “L.A. County should remain aligned with the State instead of creating confusion and disagreement at the local level.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva further believes that “forcing the unvaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science,” according to a statement released on the L.A. Sheriff’s Department Headquarters social media pages.
“(Public Health) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance,” Villanueva continued in his statement.
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