News

Los Angeles County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate

A woman wearing a mask walks out of a clothing store near a "mask required" sign on Melrose Avenue

Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • All people in Los Angeles County will once again be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status.
  • The mandate will start on July 17 and remain in place until county health officials “begin to see improvements.”
  • With the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, COVID-19 cases in LA and across the country are on the rise.

Los Angeles County will once again require people to wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of their vaccination status. The mandate will be reinstated Saturday late night.

County health officials cite a spike in new cases as the reason for requiring mask use again. Since California officially reopened on June 15, LA County has seen a seven-fold increase in COVID-19 cases, and a test positivity rate of 3.7% on July 15, up from 0.5% in mid-June.

With the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, officials say the risk for the county’s 4 million unvaccinated residents remains high.

"Waiting for us to be at high community transmission level before making a change would be too late,” Davis said in a statement. “Masking indoors must again become a normal practice by all, regardless of vaccination status, so that we can stop the trends and level of transmission we are currently seeing.”

A Surge In COVID-19 Cases

LA County had averaged 173 new cases per day the week before California reopened. In the last week, the average was 1,077 new cases a day.

Despite the spike, cases are still far below the winter peak of nearly 15,000 cases per day and deaths remain low, at an average of about seven per day.

In LA County, 69% of people over 16 years old have received at least one dose of vaccine. Despite the relatively high vaccination rate, health officials say unvaccinated individuals remain at high risk of serious illness and death. Between December and June, unvaccinated people accounted for 99.6% of the county’s COVID-19 vases, 98.7% of hospitalizations and 99.8% of deaths.

The Delta variant now accounts for 71% of sequenced samples in LA county and 57.6% of samples nationwide, according to the CDC data tracker.

“For those who have not yet been vaccinated, this is the most important reminder yet that this pandemic is not over, and that you remain at serious risk for getting sick, hospitalized, and ultimately, passing away,” Hilda Solis, Los Angeles County Supervisor for the First District, said in a Twitter statement.

"The Delta variant is not one to take lightly, and if you do not get your dose, the Delta variant will likely find you," Solis adds.

What the New Mask Mandate Means

The new mask requirements will be similar to those that were in place before California's reopening. People will still be allowed to dine indoors but will need to wear their masks when not eating or drinking.

“Wearing a mask when indoors reduces the risk of both getting and transmitting the virus. This additional layer of protection can help to slow the spread and does not limit business occupancy and operations,” the LA County statement said.

In the rest of the state, where localities do not have their own mandates, the California Department of Health says that vaccinated people need not wear masks except in some spaces, like on public transit, in healthcare settings, indoors in K-12 schools, state and local facilities, and homeless shelters. Unvaccinated people are still required to wear masks in indoor public settings including retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, and state and local government offices that serve the public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on May 13 that vaccinated people can safely forgo masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. Many states eased up on mask requirements following the CDC update.

Eight states and Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. have maintained broad mask mandates, according to AARP. Meanwhile in some states, like Florida and Texas, legislators have passed rules banning local entities from imposing mask requirements.

What This Means For You

Health experts say that being fully vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. For more information on the vaccines and how to sign up for the shot, visit vaccines.gov.

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases are on the rise. While all three vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. appear to be highly effective, health officials are reporting a higher rate of breakthrough cases.

In Massachusetts, 0.1% of people who are fully vaccinated have contracted COVID-19, leaving 79 dead and 303 hospitalized. In Illinois, a total of 151 people died due to COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated.

Still, the vast majority of COVID-19 cases are attributed to unvaccinated people.

“Millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected,” President Joe Biden said on July 6 during a press conference. “Because of that, their communities are at risk, their friends are at risk, the people they care about are at risk.”

“Good news is that our vaccinations are highly effective," Biden said. "Fully vaccinated Americans have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Los Angeles County. LA County COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard. Updated July 15, 2021.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID Data Tracker: Variant Proportions. Updated July 3, 2021.

  3. California All. Covid19.ca.gov Masks. Updated June 29, 2021.