Health officer recommends masks indoors

EL CENTRO – Not long after Los Angeles reinstated its indoor mask mandate, Imperial County health officials issued a statement recommending residents here do the same.

Although the recommendation has not risen to the level of a local health order yet, Imperial County Public Health Department is concerned about a statewide rise in COVID-19 cases.

The department said that over the past week, California has averaged 2,678 new cases and 23 new deaths per day.

Due to the statewide increase in COVID-19 cases, the Imperial County health officer (Dr. Stephen Munday), as a proactive and precautionary measure, strongly recommends the use of masks/face coverings indoors in Imperial County, regardless of vaccination status,” the health department said in a release.

Los Angeles County’s mask order will go back into effects at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. The county has been recording more than 1,000 new cases each day for a week, and there is now “substantial community transmission,” LA Public Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said. On Thursday, there were 1,537 new cases, and hospitalizations have now topped 400.

The next level is high transmission, and that’s not a place where we want to be,” he said.

In Imperial County, there has been an increase in cases, primarily in children 17 years and younger. Children 17 and younger make up about 28 percent to 29 percent of Imperial County cases in the past two weeks.

Variants of concern continue to be followed closely, ICPHD said. There was no increase in Beta or Delta variant cases in Imperial County from last week; they remain at one and two total cases, respectively. There was an increase in Alpha and Gamma cases; current totals are 69 and 100, respectively.

The current California Department of Public Health masking order requires individuals who are not vaccinated to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. In addition, everyone, even if vaccinated, is required to wear a face-covering in healthcare settings, jails, public transportation and youth settings, including schools.

Those who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated remain vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, the health department said. Vaccinations have proven to be effective against variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, slowing the rate of spread and preventing severe symptoms.

COVID-19 vaccines are available for individuals 12 years and older and easily accessible at many provider sites throughout Imperial County, including health care offices, hospitals, community clinics, pharmacies, as well as the Imperial County Public Health Department. To locate a vaccine site, visit VaccineFinder at http://vaccinefinder.org. To make an appointment through California’s MyTurn system, visit https://myturn.ca.gov or call (833)-422-4255.

Imperial County residents are also urged to continue to follow COVID-19 safety precautions, including frequent handwashing, maintaining appropriate distance in public, and staying at home when sick.

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