Los Angeles County announced on Thursday that it would continue requiring people to wear masks on all public transit and in airports, railway stations and other transportation hubs, embracing guidance from federal health authorities that has been stymied by a legal battle.
The move is a departure from California’s rules, which strongly recommend mask-wearing on public transit but do not mandate it. The state relaxed its rules this week after a federal judge in Florida struck down a nationwide mask mandate on public transportation.
The order in Los Angeles County, where one in four Californians lives, applies to everyone 2 and older and requires masks on all trains and buses, as well as in taxis, ride shares, airports, subway stations and ferry terminals.
Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles County health director, said the county was extending the mask requirement because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had determined that face coverings were still necessary on public transit.
“We obviously have a very dangerous virus that is still in circulation that can really wreak havoc,” Dr. Ferrer said in a news briefing. She added, “I think we have carved a very sensible path for the county right now, which is that we have denoted some settings where there is much higher risk, and are layering in more protections in those settings.”
Dr. Ferrer said that public transportation hubs can be crowded and that some have inadequate ventilation.
Through earlier phases of the pandemic, California officials boasted about their measures against the coronavirus, which were some of the strictest in the United States. Gov. Gavin Newsom repeatedly said the regulations had helped keep coronavirus death rates significantly lower than those in states with more lax rules, like Florida and Texas.
In recent months, however, California has relaxed its masking rules. Masks are no longer required in restaurants, stores, theaters, government offices and other indoor settings, and the state also lifted its requirement for masks in schools.
Los Angeles County will reassess its latest mask order in 30 days unless the C.D.C. issues a new recommendation or transmission rates fall to “moderate” levels before then. According to a New York Times database, new coronavirus cases in the county have increased 33 percent in the past two weeks. Hospitalizations and deaths have each fallen 18 percent.