Palm Springs, CA

Businesses, officials, residents watch, wait as COVID-19 cases spike

The Palm Springs Post
For now, signs such as this one at Kreem, 170 E. Palm Canyon Dr., will remain the norm. The city has no current plans to mandate masks againThe Palm Springs Post

A surge of COVID-19 spreading among the nation’s unvaccinated has led several cities in Southern California to impose mask requirements again. Are similar requirements coming to Palm Springs? Not officially — yet.

Multiple retail business owners here said they are once again asking both employees and customers to wear masks inside their shops. At restaurants and grocery stores, employees mostly never stopped wearing masks after restrictions were lifted in the state last month.

“We’re all masked,” said Joy Brown Meredith, owner of Crystal Fantasy on North Palm Canyon Drive. “Right now, we’re only requesting guests wear masks, and we have them at the door.”

In Los Angeles, indoor mask requirements went back into place on July 17, regardless of vaccination status, and several cities in Los Angeles County followed suit. Neither the California Department of Public Health nor the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommend requiring masks for those who are vaccinated.

Riverside County, which paused daily updates as COVID-19 cases waned, last week began to reissue the reports. For the week ended July 21, nearly 1,100 new cases were reported in the county, including 40 in Palm Springs. During the previous week, Palm Springs saw only five new cases. Palm Springs has seen a total of 3,855 COVD-19 cases and 129 deaths, including one death reported earlier this month.

There are no plans to implement a citywide order requiring masks again at indoor businesses. City Manager Justin Clifton told a group of business owners during a Zoom meeting last week. He added that city officials are closely monitoring COVID-19 cases, both here and throughout the Coachella Valley.

If mask requirements are again implemented, the move would likely be met with mixed reactions. While the city has one of the highest vaccination rates in Riverside County — with nearly 75 percent of the population fully vaccinated — many residents speaking out on social media about a possible mandate said businesses should set the rules, not city officials. They also support business owners’ rights to require proof of vaccination.

“We mandate lots of things to protect the public health … so why not going into a restaurant or other business accessible to the public?” asked David Vignolo in a local Facebook group. “Every individual has the choice of whether to get vaccinated; that should have consequences, though.”

Added another resident: “I’d like all restaurants, theaters, museums, etc. to require proof of vaccination. We won’t be safe anywhere if the unvaccinated are out and about.”

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