It’s been barely a month since the state of California reopened in a moment that felt solemn after 15 months of guidelines to minimize infection and death rates during the coronavirus pandemic. One of those changes is the return to Los Angeles County on Saturday, July 17 at 11:59 p.m. when a new health ordinance goes into effect requiring residents to wear masks indoors. This requirement also applies to fully vaccinated individuals.
– Claudia Peschiutta (@ReporterClaudia) July 15, 2021
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, LA County health officials raised concerns about the 288 percent increase of COVID-19 infections in the past two weeks. The Los Angeles times reports that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed the region in “significant” community transmission for the coronavirus. With a four-tier rating system that ranks coronavirus infection rates – one of which is the worst – this system places LA County in the second category. Long Beach’s own health department, which operates independently from LA County, will follow along with Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The LA times also reports that most of the new cases are people who are not vaccinated. In the past six months, those who did not receive a Moderna, Pfizer, or J&J syringe accounted for 99.6 percent of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, along with 98.7 percent of COVID-19 hospital admissions and 99.8 percent of deaths.
The LA County Health Department says indoor capacity in restaurants will remain the same, but all residents must mask themselves in indoor public spaces including restaurants, cinemas, retail stores, and malls. The rules mark a return to life before June 15, 2021 when eating was allowed indoors but masks had to be worn while ordering and when not eating or drinking.
The district health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis said wearing masks indoors could effectively slow the spread without disrupting business at restaurants and businesses in Los Angeles. However, he also said this swift action was necessary and warned that more restrictive steps could be taken if conditions worsened.
Questions remain for restaurants and workers. This current surge could mean a return to capacity limits, restrictions on eating indoors, or even time restrictions on eating. Like the entire University of California just announced A requirement for students to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus this fall, restaurants can do the same by requiring customers and staff to provide proof of vaccination for entry or employment.