By CBSLA Staff

VENTURA (CBSLA) — Public health officials in Ventura County on Monday “strongly” recommended that people wear masks indoors in public places due to the rise of COVID-19 cases and the increased circulation of the delta variant.

But the county’s recommendation stopped short of following neighboring Los Angeles County in mandating face masks indoors, regardless of vaccine status.

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“While vaccines remain our best tool against COVID-19, masking in indoor and crowded outdoor settings will help us curb the spread of this latest wave of infection,” Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County’s health officer, said in a statement. “Ventura County data have recently shown that unvaccinated people are 22 times more likely to become infected and hospitalized than vaccinated residents. Several of our hospitalized people have been vaccinated and that is several too many.”

Ventura County residents were urged to wear masks indoors in settings like grocery or retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers, while businesses were asked to expect universal masking for customers entering the indoor areas of their businesses to protect themselves and the business’ employees.

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Ventura County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas called the recent growth of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations “significant.”

“As of today, there are 504 new cases since July 12, 41 current hospitalizations and nine community members in the ICU. The daily case rate per 100,000 has increased to 4.4,” Vargas said in a statement.

Most of the people who are requiring hospitalization for COVID-19 at this time are unvaccinated, but the wider spread of the more contagious delta variant is increasingly infecting vaccinated people, but they are less likely to suffer severe illness or death.

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“For the most part this is a surge of cases among our unvaccinated and it is preventable,” Levin said. “Get vaccinated.”