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Riverside County Recommends Face Masks For Everyone

Patch logo Patch 7/29/2021 Toni McAllister
a person wearing a mask: California schoolchildren will be required to mask up when classes resume for the 2021-22 academic year. © Shutterstock California schoolchildren will be required to mask up when classes resume for the 2021-22 academic year.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — With federal and state health officials once again recommending that all people wear face coverings in indoor public places amid a sharp increase in COVID cases attributed to the Delta variant, Riverside County followed suit on Wednesday.

“Following the updated face mask guidance issued by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health, and in light of the recent increase in local COVID-19 cases, Riverside County Public Health recommends residents follow the new state and federal guidance for face coverings," a statement from the county said.

The current state and federal masking guidance recommend that vaccinated individuals wear face masks in public indoor settings. The state has continued to require unvaccinated people to wear mask up indoors.

The county update followed a similar CDPH recommendation Wednesday. On Tuesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued similar guidance for people who live in areas with "high" and "substantial" COVID-19 case and transmission rates. The CDC has identified Riverside County as having a high infection rate.

The masking recommendation is not a county health order and compliance is not expected to be enforced locally. Businesses, however, can require that customers and employees wear masks indoors, as can local governments.

Concerns over masking come as health officials report that the Delta variant is causing a sharp increase in hospitalizations and case rates among unvaccinated individuals.

During a Tuesday news briefing, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters that researchers are finding that the Delta variant behaves quite differently than earlier coronavirus. She explained that while breakthrough cases are very rare in vaccinated individuals, for those who do become infected with the Delta variant, scientists are discovering that viral loads are nearly the same as in unvaccinated people, making it all that more transmissible.

"This new science is quite worrisome," she said.

Still, "the vast majority of spread is occurring among unvaccinated individuals," Walensky explained, calling it "a pandemic among the unvaccinated."


Video: Los Angeles County brings back mask requirements (Associated Press)

In breakthrough cases, however, "vaccination prevents serious illness, hospitalization and death, even with the Delta variant," she said. Vaccinated patients are 20 times less likely to become hospitalized or die, Walensky added.

Some vaccinated people may feel they are masking up to protect those who willingly refuse to get the shots, but Walensky said there are other vulnerable populations to also be concerned about, such as children under 12 and immunocompromised individuals.

Moreover, scientists are very concerned that another mutation is just around the corner if the virus continues rampant spread. The fear is that the next variant may be resistant to the currently available vaccines, Walensky said.

"I really do believe that masking is a temporary measure until more people are vaccinated," she continued.

Nationwide, 49.3 percent of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to updated CDC figures. Officials have said that a national vaccination rate of 70-80 percent is needed before herd immunity might be reached.

Riverside County Coronavirus Numbers

A data glitch Wednesday interfered with portions of Riverside County's coronavirus update.

The latest figures show a total of 226 patients currently hospitalized with COVID, and that figure includes 54 patients in intensive care units.

To date, there have been 4,659 COVID-19 deaths reported in Riverside County.

On Tuesday, 1,247 new coronavirus cases were reported countywide — the largest daily total infection total in five months — for a total of 306,836 confirmed cumulative coronavirus cases. Updated case counts were unavailable as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

RELATED ARTICLES:

New Face Mask Guidance Issued By CDC As RivCo Infections Spread

New Vaccination Rules As Riverside County's COVID Rates Increase

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