US Coronavirus

What are the restrictions with Los Angeles' reinstated mask mandate?

Cases are steadily rising and there are fears of a return to restrictions barely one month after California's reopening.

What are the restrictions with Los Angeles' reinstated mask mandate?
Mike Blake Reuters

Beginning Saturday July 17, Los Angeles County is making public use of masks mandatory once more. This also includes people who have been vaccinated against covid-19.

This move has been followed by other counties in California as the state begins a new wave of covid-19. This wave is dominated by the Delta variant which was present in just 2.2% of all tests sequenced in April to about 43% of all tests in June.

Why have the restrictions returned?

To put it simply covid-19 cases are rising quickly once more in the county and across the state.

Los Angeles' public health officer Muntu Davis described the new wave as, "an all-hands-on-deck moment." The county has been reporting more than 1,000 new cases everyday for the past week. Hospitalisations are at their highest since April.

On June 15 California Governor Gavin Newsom ended executive orders concerning covid-19 rules. This included:

  • ending social distancing rules,
  • ending capacity limits inside and outside businesses
  • tiered systems for counties to assess the prevalence of the virus.

And just over a month later and individual counties have started to impose their own restrictions on their populaces. Despite helping the economy across the state there is now a risk that cases and hospitalisations could get too high to manage.

It will be hard to “throw down a big public-health order one month after lifting it,” said Andrew Noymer, an infectious disease expert at University of California Irvine. Gov. Newsom could direct Californians to wear masks again, but there are risks that these orders will be ignored.

Further restrictions haven't been ruled out depending on how well hospitals can cope with the new wave. The vaccination campaign seems to be paying dividends so far as deaths are not rising at the same rate as infections with the 7-day average of deaths decreasing over the last month.

How has California been dealing with covid-19?

California has fully vaccinated 3% more people than the national average, 52.6% and 20,664,238 people in total as of July 16.

In terms of cases and deaths, the state has seen 3,850,825 cases and 63,645 deaths. California is one of the states with fewest cases per 100,000 people throughout the pandemic with 9,746 cases per 100,000 people.