LOS ANGELES, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Public health authorities in Los Angeles County announced on Thursday that the most populous county in the United States will require all residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status, due to increased COVID-19 transmission.
The new mandate will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. (0659 GMT) local time on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The new mandate comes one month after California fully reopened its economy on June 15 by lifting almost all COVID-19 restrictions. State authorities said then that masks were no longer required for fully vaccinated individuals in most public settings.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in Thursday's release that the county "sees more than a seven-times increase in new cases since the June 15 reopening," adding that community transmission of COVID-19 has rapidly increased from moderate to substantial, based on the trend in daily new cases of COVID-19.
On June 15, Los Angeles County saw 210 new cases and officials confirmed on Thursday the highest number of new cases since mid-March with a total of 1,537. The test positivity rate has increased from the 0.5 percent seen a month ago to Thursday's 3.7 percent, according to the data released by the department.
It's the seventh day in a row the county, home to over 10 million residents, has reported over 1,000 new cases amid spread of Delta variant in the region.
"We expect to keep masking requirements in place until we begin to see improvements in our community transmission of COVID-19," said Muntu Davis, Health Officer for Los Angeles County, urging all eligible residents to get vaccinated.
To date, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has identified 1,262,578 positive cases with 24,566 deaths in the county. Official data showed that among residents aged 16 and above in Los Angeles County, 69 percent have received at least one dose, and 61 percent now have been fully vaccinated.