After the Delta variant was discovered in March, COVID 19 cases have been skyrocketing in the United States of America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the Delta strain made up more than 20% of the cases towards the end of June. One of the hotspots for the new strain is Los Angeles County which has recorded a 165% increase in confirmed cases. Los Angeles, which is one of the most populous counties in the nation, has recorded over 24,000 deaths since the first recorded case. Currently, it has over 1000 active COVID 19 cases.
Recent studies also show that unvaccinated people are at the most risk. According to the Los Angeles public health department, fully vaccinated people only make up 0.06% of infected people. Statistics have also shown that the vaccination rate is low especially among Black and Latino people. COVID 19 restrictions were lifted in June nearly a year after the first lockdown, however as residents and businesses returned to their daily lives, new cases have slowly trickled in.
The County reported an average of 0.5 cases however they believe many are undetected seeing the daily increase in positive tests to the virus. Initially, the federal health officials stood by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in allowing people who have been vaccinated to go without masks. They however announced that localities are free to adopt any regulation depending on the number of cases and hospitalizations recorded.
According to the Governor in a briefing last week, everyone who has lost their lives or been infected with the virus has been because they were not vaccinated. The director of public health, Barbara Ferrer, commented on the need for vaccinations referring to it as an “important tool” in reducing the transmission of the virus and the proliferation of the Delta variant. In a news conference, Los Angeles County health officer, Mantu Davis announced the reinstatement of the mask mandate.
The order which is to commence at 11:59pm on Saturday night involves residents wearing masks even indoors. There are no exceptions as even fully vaccinated people are expected to mask up. These masking requirements are to remain in place until the public health officers see an improvement in the rate of transmission of the virus.
There are concerns that the enforcement of the mask mandate sends mixed signals concerning the effectiveness of the vaccine. Medical director of the Intensive Care Unit at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center expressed his disappointment over the news of the mandate. “there’s a lot of people who still have hesitancy about getting the vaccine.” This mandate is also at odds with the state rules enforced in the rest of California which do not require the use of masks in an indoor setting.
Business owners are also apprehensive about what this means for their business. Most of them have just regained stability after the COVID 19 restrictions were lifted and they are worried this could be a writing on the wall that another lockdown would be imposed.
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