LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The Los Angeles County Health Department declined Thursday to impose a universal mandate for public indoor masks, citing a “decent drop” in cases and hospitalizations.
Public health director Barbara Ferrer made the announcement during a livestream meeting.
“Given the decline in hospital admissions, we are hopeful that the admission rate will remain below 10 new admissions per 100,000 residents in the coming days and that LA County will soon be officially moved by (the Centers for Disease Control) to the ‘medium’ on community level,” Ferrer said. “As I noted last week, any indication that the county would soon move to the medium-sized community level would be a good reason not to move forward with universal indoor masking.”
For most of the pandemic, LA County needs masks in some indoor spaces, including health care facilities, subway trains and buses, airports, prisons and homeless shelters. The new mandate would have extended the requirement to all indoor public spaces, including shared offices, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, shops, restaurants and bars, theaters and schools.
VIEW | dr. Barbara Ferrer discusses county’s decision not to reinstate indoor mask mandate
Supervisor Kathryn Barger applauded the decision to delay reinstatement of the rule.
“Unenforceable mandates don’t work,” Barger said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “We must continue to use our mandates and resources effectively in the fight against COVID-19.”
Supervisor Janice Hahn had joined her in opposing a mandate, saying she feared the imposition of such a rule “would be very divisive to LA County.”
“I honestly believe there is a significant portion of the population that does not want to accept mask mandates at this point,” Hahn said. “And many of them, those who have contacted me, pointed out that we have more resources now than we did at the start of the pandemic.”
The province entered the “high” category two weeks ago when the average daily rate of COVID-related hospitalizations topped 10 per 100,000 residents. On July 21, the rate was 11.7 admissions per 100,000 inhabitants.
Earlier this week, while residents awaited the decision, several cities — Beverly Hills, El Segundo, Pasadena and Long Beach — announced they would not enforce an inner mask mandate if one were introduced.
El Segundo’s city council voted in a special meeting on Tuesday evening against enforcing a possible mask order.
The Beverly Hills City Council cast a similar vote Monday night. The cities of Long Beach and Pasadena — both of which have their own health departments separate from the county — announced Tuesday that they would not issue mask mandates even if the county did.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said things may have slowed down, but he would support any decision by health officials.
“If they say this is something we need to do for a few weeks to get kids into school, I’ll support that,” Garcetti told reporters. “But it seems that the number of cases has increased. If that also happens with hospital admissions, we may not have to switch to mandatory masking.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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