Los Angeles County reimposing indoor mask requirement

The city in recent weeks has had an alarming number of new COVID-19 cases.

Los Angeles County is reviving a requirement that masks be worn indoors, regardless of one's vaccination status, health officials said Thursday.

The requirement will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on July 17.  Some exceptions will apply.

"We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late, given what we’re seeing," L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a virtual briefing with reporters. 

Davis said the order would be published in its entirety no later than Friday on the county's COVID-19 information website. The announcement came a month to the day after California dropped its statewide mask mandate for vaccinated people. 

Last month, the county began recommending that people wear masks indoors and in public places instead of a mandate. 

In recent days, the county has reported more than 1,000 new daily COVID-19 cases, with reports of COVID-19 related hospitalizations on the rise. Countywide, 1.2 million total cases have been reported throughout the pandemic. 

"We took a chance in terms of lifting the physical distancing requirements as well as the capacity limits. We changed the masking at the time. We felt it was reasonable to do given the level of community transmission that we had at that moment," Davis said. "But this is not the same situation. We’re in a very different situation. This is not the same as what it was June 15."

He said "everything is on the table" if things get worse. 

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In a tweet Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom simply urged residents to get the vaccine. During a Wednesday appearance in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell Gardens, he pleaded with residents to get vaccinated. 

"I cannot impress upon you more the power of getting vaccinated," he said. "If we want to extinguish this pandemic, this disease, we've got to get vaccinated. Period. Full stop. You're seeing again around the rest of the world -- read the headlines in Indonesia right now. Read the headlines in Portugal right now. Read the headlines in the United States of America right now."

Recovery from the pandemic has been complicated by the spread of the Delta variant, which medical experts say is more contagious than other strains. 

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Davis said the pandemic is being exacerbated by those who remain unvaccinated, citing communities with low vaccination rates. 

"Given that slightly under 4 million L.A. County residents are not vaccinated, the risk of increased spread of this variant within our county remains high," he said. "It’s just disappointing that overall vaccination numbers are lower than we need them to be."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.