After weeks of insisting fully vaccinated people could shed face coverings in most situations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course Tuesday and recommended mask-wearing indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in areas experiencing “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 transmission.
Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties are all currently listed by the CDC as having “high” transmission rates.
Los Angeles County implemented a mask-wearing mandate in indoor public settings for everyone earlier this month, citing spiking cases attributed to spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19. It was not immediately clear if other local counties will impose similar mandates now that the CDC is recommending indoor mask-wearing for all.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the change Tuesday, saying the Delta variant “behaves uniquely different from past strains of the virus that cause COVID-19.”
She called rapid spread of the COVID variant “worrisome,” and said its behavior “warrants an update to our recommendations.”
Mask-wearing has remained a requirement indoors across California for unvaccinated people. However, enforcement of the requirement was based largely on the honor system, making it uncertain if unvaccinated residents were abiding by the rule.