Several counties in California and Nevada are now advising all residents to wear masks in indoor public places – whether or not they are vaccinated. Local leaders in at least three other states have reinstated mask warrants, issued facial coverage recommendations, or threatened the return of strict public health limits for all residents – in defiance of federal health guidelines that say vaccinated people do not have to follow these protocols in most settings.
“An increase in the number of cases was not unexpected as the community started to reopen completely,” Southern Nevada Health District spokesperson Jennifer Sizemore told CNBC. Home to Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada tightened its mask recommendation last week after Covid-19 cases and deaths rose 50% from the previous week. A total of 4,599 new infections were reported last week along with 33 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On May 13, the CDC relaxed its Covid guidelines on masks for fully vaccinated people, saying they did not need to use them or practice social distancing in most settings. CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky told lawmakers at a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the agency is actively reviewing his mask and other public health guidelines as the virus and pandemic evolve, from especially as scientists learn more about the delta variant and how vaccines resist.
“A lot has changed since May 13,” Walensky said. “We now have a variant circulating in this country which at the time was 3% (of new cases) and is now at 83% and much more transmissible. “
The delta variant is spreading across the country, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, she said. Almost two-thirds of counties in the United States have vaccinated less than 40% of their residents, “allowing the emergence and rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant”, and this is leading to increased hospitalizations and deaths, a- she declared.
This is starting to show in Nevada, which has only fully vaccinated 43.5% of its population, according to CDC data. Clark County recorded 641 new hospitalizations for Covid last week, 23% more admissions than in the previous seven days. Despite the resurgence of the epidemic in the Las Vegas area, Sizemore said the county’s vaccination rate had hovered just under 42% in the past two weeks.
“However, the community’s immunization rate has slowed and unvaccinated people are not taking recommended precautions, including wearing masks and pursuing social distancing,” Sizemore said.
Nevada isn’t the only state to strengthen its mask guidelines. Seven counties in the Bay Area of California recommended the use of masks indoors on Friday, stopping before a full term. The city of Berkeley, Calif., Has also called for continued use of masks.
Further south, Los Angeles County reinstated its mask mandate for indoor public places on Saturday. The county initially eliminated the warrant on Thursday, when the state formally rolled back a series of executive measures designed to mitigate the spread of Covid.
In Massachusetts, Provincetown officials on Monday advised all individuals to resume wearing masks indoors after the July 4 celebrations led to an outbreak of new cases.
In the parish of Orleans, Louisiana – where the CDC reported 560 new cases of coronavirus last week – New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell is considering replenishing a mask warrant, a move that NOLA.com reports could arrive as early as Wednesday. And New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday that he wanted to avoid reinstating a mask warrant, pushing residents to get vaccinated instead.
“Right now, I hope we don’t have to do this,” Murphy said. “If we have to, we will. “