Los Angeles County health officials now strongly recommend that people wear masks in public, regardless of their vaccination status, to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Delta type of coronavirus.
Monday’s recommendation by the Los Angeles County Department of Health comes as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that delta variants are now responsible for about one in five new infections across the United States.
Los Angeles County health officials note that “fully vaccinated people appear to be well protected from infection with delta variants.” But the department does suggest that people wear masks when inside grocery stores or retail stores, as well as in theaters, family entertainment centers and workplaces when people’s vaccination status is unknown.
“Until we better understand how and to whom the delta variant is spread, everyone should focus on maximum protection with minimal disruption to routine as all businesses operate without other restrictions, such as physical distance and capacity limits,” the ministry said in a press release.
The delta variant was first discovered in India and is now widely circulated in many countries. Cases of Covid-19 and the more contagious delta variant are increasing in some parts of the United States, particularly where vaccination rates are low. Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that the variant could quickly become the dominant version of the virus in the United States.
With over 10 million residents, Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States. Nearly 68% of the county’s 16-year-olds have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to county data, and 59% have been fully vaccinated.
The county has seen a massive wave of Covid-19 cases and deaths during the winter. So far, the county has recorded more than 1.2 million cases and more than 24,000 deaths.
The recommendation comes as recent data shows that the epidemic in Los Angeles County continues to have a disproportionate impact on certain communities of color, with black residents contracting Covid and requiring hospital treatment at more than twice the rate of the white population.