• Counties in five states across the US are bringing back mask-wearing rules due to rising cases of COVID-19.
• The Delta variant, which is now the most dominant strain in the US, is threatening a return to normalcy.
• Dr. Anthony Fauci said even fully vaccinated Americans might want to wear masks indoors again.
It’s the return of the mask.
Lawmakers in several states across the US are telling Americans to once again wear masks indoors as the uber-contagious Delta variant continues to wreak havoc around the country.
The Delta variant, now the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in America, is spreading about 55% faster than the alpha strain that first hit the UK late last year, according to CNN.
Some have compared it to the “2020 version of COVID-19 on steroids,” and more recently, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that fully vaccinated Americans might want to wear masks indoors again as a precaution.
As case numbers rise across the US, counties in California, Massachusetts, and other states are urging residents to wear masks inside — regardless of their vaccination status.
Here’s what you need to know about the states that either brought back mask mandates or are considering it.
Rising levels of the Delta variant in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous county, convinced local leaders in California to reinstate a local mask mandate requiring people to wear masks at indoor public locations starting July 18 for all residents.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles County reported 2,551 new COVID-19 cases, its largest total in months, as the positivity rate currently stands at 5.2%. Just a month ago, it was at 0.7%.
Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s public health director, told the New York Times that there’s no timeline for how long the mask mandate will last.
“It’s hard to say. It’s by far the most infectious variant we’ve ever seen; you end up with more breakthrough cases because it’s a more infectious variant,” she said.
Other parts of California, including the Bay Area, recommended masks indoors, but did not require them.
With nearly two-thirds of the state’s population remaining unvaccinated, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Louisiana soared to its highest levels in five months, according to officials said.
The state reported 3,264 confirmed cases on Wednesday, marking the largest tally of new infections since January 15, The Advocate reported.
Now, New Orleans officials are “strongly recommending” that people resume mask-wearing indoors in an effort to avoid the type of shutdown that derailed that city’s tourism last year.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell wouldn’t say face coverings are required but essentially left it in the publics’ hands to be responsible before the city enforces mask-wearing.
Cape Cod hotspot Provincetown urged venues to double-check vaccination records for anyone entering indoor facilities, in addition to suggesting everyone wear masks indoors.
The recommendation comes after the Fourth of July celebrations that caused a spike in the coastal town. Massachusetts health officials said there are now 256 confirmed cases of COVID-19 that stem from the holiday weekend, with 109 patients residing in Barnstable county.
Another vacation destination — Nantucket — is also telling residents and visitors to wear masks indoors and at public locations.
“The increased virulence of the Delta variant, and its high ability to infect even those vaccinated in some cases, means that masking and distancing are strongly recommended at this time,” Nantucket town officials said in a statement.
Get vaccinated or masks are coming back — that was the warning New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told residents on Tuesday. In an interview with CNBC, Murphy begged people to get the shots.
“For the time being, I hope we don’t have to do that,” Murphy said, referring to LA County’s mask mandate. “If we have to, we will.”
Like other states, New Jersey has seen new daily cases climb over the last week. New Jersey’s seven-day average is around 422, up nearly 50% compared to a week ago, CNBC reported.
In May, the Nevada Gaming Control Board announced it was lifting all COVID-19 restrictions in June, but rising cases in the state have brought masks back inside casinos and resorts across Southern Nevada, according to reports.
The mandate comes after Clark County, home to Las Vegas, required employees to wear masks in public outdoor spaces starting Thursday, even if they are vaccinated.
Cases surged in the state by 50% over the past week, with 4,599 new infections reported last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty-three people died from COVID-related illnesses, according to data.
Just 43% of Nevada residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.