CALIFORNIA has reintroduced mask mandates as Donald Trump's Surgeon General warned vaccinated Americans should continue to wear face coverings.
Health officials in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area have reinstated compulsory indoor mask wearing for all residents to curb the spread of Covid as the Delta variant grips the nation.
Eight counties in California's Bay Area – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma and the City of Berkeley –have ordered both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
The joint announcement comes one day after LA announced it would reinstate an indoor mask policy amid a surge in cases.
The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant – which originated in India – pushed new infections across the country up to 51,890 on Friday, compared to 23,103 just one week before.
In California, cases of the Delta variant made up 48.8 per cent of all new cases in June, compared to just 6 per cent in May, Daily Mail reports.
"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," LA County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said.
The Bay Area health officials said the recommendation was made "out of an abundance of caution" as an "added layer of protection for unvaccinated residents".
SPREAD OF THE DELTA VARIANT
"The Delta variant is spreading quickly, and everyone should take action to protect themselves and others against this potentially deadly virus," Alameda County Health Officer Dr Nicholas Moss said.
Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr Chris Farnitano added: "The highly infectious Delta variant is now the predominant strain in Contra Costa County.
"While vaccines remain our best tool against Covid-19, masking in indoor and crowded outdoor settings will help us curb the spread of this latest wave of infection."
Although 83 per cent of San Francisco residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, cases are continuing to rise.
"Unfortunately, even though we have very high rates of vaccination and the excellent protection that affords, we are still seeing our case rates rise," Santa Clara County Assistant Health Officer Dr Sarah Rudman told CBS SF Bay Area.
And former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who served under the Trump Administration, warned the CDC's dropping of mask recommendations for the vaccinated might have been premature.
"Last year Tony Fauci and I famously, prematurely, & wrongly advised against masks. I felt it was the best call at the time, but now regret it," Adams tweeted on Saturday.
"I’m worried the CDC also made a similarly premature, misinterpreted, yet still harmful call on masking in the face of Delta variant."
In LA, the indoor mask mandate came after the county saw a 700 per cent increase in its Covid positivity rate over the last month, according to county health officials.
LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis said the reinstated mask mandate was "not punishment, it's prevention".
"We still have 4 million people out of 10 million that haven't been vaccinated. And many of them are young people," Solis, a former Obama administration labor secretary, told ABC’s This Week.
"And we're seeing that this transmission is so highly contagious that it will cost more in the long run if we have to see our hospitals being impacted, our ICU units, as well as our health care workers."
The Southern Nevada Health District is also recommending people wear masks in indoor places – including Las Vegas casinos – regardless of vaccine status, officials said in a statement.
But Joe Pierro, owner of Market Grille Cafe in Las Vegas, said he was "shocked" by city's renewed mask mandate.
He told Fox & Friends Weekend: "I'm not sure what's happening. I thought the whole idea of getting vaccinated is it prevents us from having to wear a mask.
"All the signs out there tell me it's not heading in the right direction, I agree."
He added: "We're just shocked. All the struggles that we made to get to where we are today, and knowing there's a possibility that we might have to revert back."
With the Delta variant affecting primarily the unvaccinated, Trump blasted the Biden administration's vaccination effort.
"He's way behind schedule, and people are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don't trust his Administration, they don't trust the Election results, and they certainly don't trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth," Trump said in a statement.
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