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Clark County implements new mask mandate for employees

The Clark County Commission on Tuesday implemented a recommendation by the Southern Nevada Health District that employees wear face masks in crowded indoor public spaces, even those who are vaccinated.

The commission is following Los Angeles County, which required that everyone wear masks indoors effective last Saturday.

L.A. county’s top health official recommended last week that residents there reconsider traveling to Nevada and other states where coronavirus rates are increasingly high, particularly if they are unvaccinated.

The commission also wanted companies to submit plans on how they will combat the spike and said it needed to emphasize the importance of increasing vaccinations in the region.

The requirement will take effect at 12 a.m. Thursday. The commission will meet again on Aug. 17 to revisit the action.

Commissioner Jim Gibson cited the region’s revival of the trade show and convention industry and stress on hospitalization increases as a big reason for Tuesday’s action.

Dr. Cortland Lohff, chief medical officer for the Southern Nevada Health District, said that the County Commission should implement the mask mandate recommended by health district on Friday, meaning masks for everyone in public indoor places.

He added that the more-contagious delta variant is driving a rise in cases in Clark County and vaccination rates are plateauing.

“I don’t think that anybody up here, including the health district, wants to shut down anything,” Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick says, adding that Tuesday’s meeting is about short-term solution to slowing spread.

Kirkpatrick added that more must be done to protect employees across the valley, who are bearing the brunt of COVID.

During a sometimes contentious public speaking period, the vast majority of commenters made it known that they were against masks, either questioning their effectiveness or any government mandate, with one saying, “No one can tell me I can’t breathe fresh air.”

Many of the state’s key COVID-19 metrics have been on the rise in recent weeks, which public health experts have attributed to the more-contagious delta coronavirus variant among people who have not been vaccinated.

The county has maintained control over much of the pandemic’s mitigation since May 1, when authority transitioned from the state level. The county reverted to pre-pandemic rules on June 1, enabling 100 percent capacity among other things, as COVID-19 cases were low and vaccination rates were increasing.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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