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Mask mandate enacted in Orange County Superior Court’s Santa Ana facility

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After two people with ties to the Orange County Superior Courthouse in Santa Ana tested positive for the coronavirus, a judge ruled in an administrative order Sunday that everyone inside the facility must wear a mask.

Beginning Monday, anyone entering the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask, acting Presiding Judge Maria Hernandez said in the order.

The decision came two weeks after the Orange County Superior Court issued the same order for its neighboring courtroom, Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach, because two people there had tested positive for the coronavirus.

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A month earlier, the court had lifted many of its pandemic restrictions, in line with state rules that allowed for vaccinated people to go unmasked in most indoor settings.

“We worked very hard to maintain the health and safety of our community for the past 15 months,” court Executive Officer David Yamasaki said in a statement at the time. “We need to be careful in the way we move toward normalcy, so as not to undo all that we worked so hard to achieve.”

The court order is the first government-mandated return to masking in Orange County since the governor lifted masks requirements for vaccinated people on June 15. Masking requirements haven’t changed at the court’s other locations in Orange, Fullerton and Westminster.

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Like many parts of the country, coronavirus infections have been increasing in Orange County. Overall, there have been 260,720 confirmed cases of the virus in the county. Over the past week, Orange County has averaged 413 new cases per day, a surge of more than 700% in the past 14 days, according to The Times’ tracker.

The court’s decision notches another mark in Southern California’s slow return to some pandemic safety rules as the Delta variant of the coronavirus picks up speed. Less than two weeks ago, Los Angeles County announced masks would again be required indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Similar to Orange County’s court order, San Mateo County last week said masks would be required at all county facilities.

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