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A customer wearing a mask leaves Marshalls discount store in El Centro on June 16, while another patron in a mask can be seen inside. Most mask restrictions and COVID-19-related measures were removed or eased on June 15. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. FILE PHOTO

Imperial County Not Changing Masking Guidance Amid Delta Surge

Though areas like Los Angeles County are recommending mask wearing, the Imperial County Public Health Department continues to follow state guidelines for face coverings in the region.

The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread statewide, making up 14.5 percent of California coronavirus cases analyzed so far in June, according to data released by the state Public Health Department. It was the third-most common variant in California in June.

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department issued a recommendation Monday, June 28, that all residents wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated. 

Imperial County, though, is still following the state’s lead. 

“At this moment in time we’re still following the state masking guideline,” Imperial County Public Health Director Janette Angulo said on Tuesday afternoon, June 29. 

The state’s masking guidelines changed two weeks ago when mask mandates were lifted for those vaccinated against COVID-19, except in certain areas like hospitals, prisons and on public transportation. Those not fully vaccinated are still to wear masks in public.

Angulo said the county will continue to follow state guidelines from the state Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA. However, the county is remaining vigilant, as “we’re still in a pandemic,” she said.

Nearby San Diego County also had not recommended a return to more widespread mask wearing as of Tuesday.

The LA County recommendation — which is not a mandate — in the nation’s most populous county also does not match what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was saying early this week, which is that vaccinated people in certain public indoor settings do not need to be masked.

The World Health Organization, however, is urging vaccinated people to wear masks as cases of the Delta variant spike worldwide, which was first identified in India. Hong Kong says it will ban all passenger flights from the United Kingdom starting Thursday, July 1. More than 95 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.K. are of the Delta variant.

LA County public health suggested that people wear masks when inside grocery or retail stores, as well as theaters and family entertainment centers and workplaces when people’s vaccination statuses are not known.

“Until we better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading, everyone should focus on maximum protection with minimum interruption to routine as all businesses operate without other restrictions, like physical distancing and capacity limits,” the department said in a news release.

As of Tuesday morning, Imperial County was showing just 50 active cases of COVID. The positivity rate for the week ending June 19 was 3.4 percent with 2.3 cases per 100,000 residents.

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