LA County’s indoor mask mandate is back in effect

An outside patio with chairs and dining tables and two women sitting
In response to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, Los Angeles County health officials are reinstating an indoor mask mandate for all individuals, effective Saturday. (Regan Rudman • The Student Life)

Just weeks after a full reopening eased Los Angeles County’s mask mandate, an spike in coronavirus cases fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant caused the county to put the requirement back in place.

Effective Saturday at 11:59 p.m., the LA County Health Officer is requiring all individuals — vaccinated or not — to wear face coverings indoors, the public health department announced Thursday. 

The shift comes as the LA area experiences a seven-fold increase in new COVID cases since it reopened slightly more than a month ago. The county’s rolling average has surpassed 1,000 cases a day, according to a Los Angeles Times database, compared to an average of around 200 per day in June, and its community transmission rate has increased from “low” to “substantial.”

Hospitalizations have not significantly risen, and officials maintain that virtually everyone who has been hospitalized due to the virus is unvaccinated.

Still, public health authorities have raised alarm bells about the spread, particularly with nearly 4 million county residents still lacking full vaccination. 

Claremont is lagging behind the county at large when it comes to vaccination. Records show that just under 64 percent of residents over 16 have received at least one dose, compared to 69 percent county-wide. 

The city tacked on 17 new cases in the last two weeks, according to the Times.

The order reverses the 5Cs’ forays at allowing workers to go unmasked. Four of the schools had recently told staff masks were now optional indoors and outdoors for vaccinated individuals, although Pitzer College heeded previous county advice and continued to mandate them.

It’s not clear how the developing public health landscape will affect the 5Cs’ full return to campus this August, especially as cases continue to fluctuate. But Claremont McKenna College specifically listed indoor spaces like non-private offices, classrooms, residence hall common areas and Roberts Pavilion as areas where masks would be required for all, adding that residence hall rooms and suites will be considered households and exempt from the requirement. 

Pomona College COO Rob Goldberg was quick to inform community members on Thursday that, in compliance with the new order, masks are once again required on campus.

“All of us can take action to help by getting fully vaccinated, wearing masks in indoor public places and following all public health protocols,” he said. 

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