Riverside County health officials recommend mask wearing indoors

Citing rising local COVID-19 infections and revised guidelines from federal and state health officials, Riverside County has recommended that residents wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.

But the county's action on Wednesday was only a recommendation, not a mandate, for vaccinated people. State rules require unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors.

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"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," according to a statement issued Wednesday.

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"The current state and federal masking guidance recommend that vaccinated individuals wear face masks in public indoor settings. The state still requires unvaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors. As the impact on the Delta variant increases transmissibility, Riverside County health officials continue to stress that getting vaccinated is the best protection against the virus and its variants."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask-wearing recommendations Tuesday, suggesting -- but not requiring -- that people don face coverings indoors regardless of vaccination status. The recommendation applies to areas with "high" or "substantial" COVID-19 transmission. That includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.

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The California Department of Public Health, citing the CDC's change, updated its guidance Wednesday morning to mirror the recommendation.

"The Delta variant has caused a sharp increase in hospitalizations and case rates across the state," Dr. Tomas J. Aragon, CDPH director and state public health officer, said in a statement. "We are recommending masking in indoor public places to slow the spread while we continue efforts to get more Californians vaccinated."

According to state health officials, more than 90% of California's population is in areas with "high" or "substantial" transmission of COVID-19.

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