Las Vegas, San Francisco encourage masking


(NewsNation Now) — Las Vegas and San Francisco’s health departments are recommending, but not requiring, people to wear masks as COVID-19 cases increase.

It comes a day after Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest, announced everyone would have to wear masks indoors. The positivity rate there has climbed to 3.7% since June 15, which is a 700% increase.

Officials from the counties of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sonoma and the city of Berkeley said wearing them will ensure all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings.

The Bay Area has seen some of the highest vaccination rates in the state. Several of the area’s seven counties have at least 80% of their residents 12 and older vaccinated with at least one dose.

In Las Vegas, the health department’s recommendation does not carry official weight, though it could prompt state and local governments to reinstate mandates.

“Both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should wear masks when they are in crowded public settings … such as grocery stores, malls, large events and casinos,” Dr. Fermin Leguen, the region’s chief health officer, told reporters.

He said the district doesn’t have the authority to make masks mandatory, leaving that question to the state, county and cities.

Vaccine clinics and testing are continuing at sites around the region, Leguen added.

Vaccination rates have stalled in recent weeks in Nevada, a state with libertarian leanings where health officials reported Friday that about 55% of residents 12 years and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Statewide, about 46.3% are fully vaccinated.

In Los Angeles, residents are reacting with a mix of resignation, outrage and confusion.

“This is a community effort really,” Dr. Edward Jones-Lopez with Keck Medicine of USC said. “And as long as a certain proportion of people refuse vaccinations, unfortunately, many others will have to adjust to that reality.”

Nationally, 68% of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Friday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and President Joe Biden referred to the current surge as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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