By STEFANIE DAZIO | The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Health officials in Los Angeles County now strongly recommend that people wear masks indoors in public places — regardless of their vaccination status — to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.
The move comes two weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom reopened California and lifted the statewide mask mandate.
The LA County recommendation — which is not a mandate — in the nation’s most populous county does not match what the state government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, which is that vaccinated people in certain public indoor settings do not need to be masked. Unvaccinated people are supposed to wear masks in public.
The World Health Organization, however, is urging vaccinated people to wear masks as cases of the delta variant spike worldwide, which was first identified in India. Hong Kong says it will ban all passenger flights from the U.K. starting Thursday. More than 95% of COVID-19 cases in the U.K. are of the delta variant.
The LA County public health department suggested that people wear masks when inside grocery or retail stores, as well as theaters and family entertainment centers and workplaces when people’s vaccination statuses are not known.
“Until we better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading, everyone should focus on maximum protection with minimum interruption to routine as all businesses operate without other restrictions, like physical distancing and capacity limits,” the department said in a news release.
The county experienced a massive surge in cases and deaths over the winter. To date, the county has recorded a total of 1.2 million cases and more than 24,000 deaths.