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As COVID Cases Surge, Inland Counties Will Not Require Masks

Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Spiegel during the July 27, 2021 meeting.
Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Spiegel during the July 27, 2021 meeting.

Inland officials will not be requiring residents to wear masks despite a recommendation by the CDC Tuesday that vaccinated people should once again wear them indoors in places where COVID-19 infections are surging.

The discussion comes as infection rates in both Riverside and San Bernardino County are widespread due to the delta variant. If the state's old color-coded reopening tier were still in place, both counties would be in the most restrictive purple tier.

And for the second week in a row, Riverside County saw a 50 percent increase in ICU patients with COVID, its highest since March. Nearly 100 percent of these patients are unvaccinated.

Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Spiegel told the public at the Tuesday meeting that the county currently does not have a mask or vaccine mandate, “and there is at this time no intention. I have no intention at all," said Spiegel. "It’s a very challenging situation.”

San Bernardino also has no plans to create a mask mandate. When it comes to public health guidance during the pandemic it has favored an educational approach over enforcement.

Dr. Geoffrey Leung, Riverside County's health officer said a rise in cases was expected after the state's re-opening in June. Leung and San Bernardino public health officials said that in addition to masking and social distancing, the most effective tool against the virus continues to be vaccination.