Los Angeles County residents are being asked to wear masks indoors again — just two weeks after LA dropped its mask mandate — over fears of the new Delta variant of coronavirus.
Other areas of the United States could follow, the Daily Mail reports, especially areas with low vaccination rates. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines all are reported to be effective against the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.
"While COVID-19 vaccine provides very effective protection preventing hospitalizations and deaths against the Delta variant, the strain is proving to be more transmissible and is expected to become more prevalent," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
"Mask wearing remains an effective tool for reducing transmission, especially indoors where the virus may be easily spread through inhalation of aerosols emitted by an infected person," she added.
LA County has seen upward of 1 million cases of COVID-19, with 24,480 deaths. The Delta variant is responsible for 5.7% of new COVID cases in the state.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health reports 64 cases of the Delta variant in LA County as of mid-June.
Throughout the United States, 33 million COVID-19 cases have resulted in more that 600,000 deaths. The Delta variant currently represents 20.6% of new cases.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised his city will not go into another lockdown over the variant, citing the Big Apple's high vaccination rate.
"We are watching the Delta variant very carefully in this city," de Blasio said. "We have a lot of information, and we're obviously watching it around the world but the difference here is a very high level of vaccination."
The mayor pointed out that 4.2 million out of the city's 8.2 million residents have been fully vaccinated while 4.6 million have been given at least one dose.
"The bottom line is right now we're winning the race against the Delta variant, but we've gotta keep winning," de Blasio said.
Whether the city goes into lockdown isn't decided by the mayor, however. That decision rests with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the Delta variant is the "most transmissible" variant yet and may soon be the dominant version of the virus in the United States. Several states, especially in the South, have low vaccination rates.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that even fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks and social distancing again while indoors to help fight the spread of the variant that has already spread through 12 states and 85 countries since April.
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