Advertisement
Share

L.A. County could be days away from a mask mandate. These cities won’t enforce it

A person wears a mask at a crowded outdoor market.
Shoppers at the Long Beach Flea Market in April. Officials with Pasadena, Beverly Hills and Long Beach have come out against a mask mandate were the county to order it in a spike of COVID-19 cases.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Although Los Angeles County is days away from possibly imposing another universal public indoor mask mandate, several cities within the county say they won’t enforce one if implemented or issue their own.

Officials with the cities of Pasadena, Long Beach and Beverly Hills have come out against a new mask mandate in a spike of COVID-19 cases fueled by the hyper-infectious Omicron subvariants.

“Pasadena Public Health Department has determined that jurisdictional COVID-19 confirmed case rates have declined for about 10 days, and local hospitalization metrics have not continued to increase during that time,” Pasadena health officials said in a Tuesday statement. “The City of Pasadena health officer will not be issuing a general indoor mask mandate at this time.”

The Long Beach Health and Human Services Department released a similar statement Tuesday.

“Despite rising cases, hospitalizations among Long Beach residents remain stable, area hospitals have adequate capacity and fatalities remain low,” Long Beach health officials said. “Therefore, regarding masking, the City of Long Beach will continue to align with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which strongly urges, but does not require, masking in most circumstances.”

Both Pasadena and Long Beach have their own public health departments and therefore can decide individually whether to align their local mask rules with those set by L.A. County.

Advertisement

The idea of a new indoor mask mandate, which could come in days, sparks a growing debate, with some L.A. communities saying they won’t enforce it.

Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse previously struck down the possibility of enforcing an indoor mask mandate, calling a special meeting Monday night to discuss the prospect of new L.A. County mask rules. The council, led by Bosse, voted unanimously not to deploy resources to enforce a mandate.

“I feel it is our job to lead, and I support the power of choice,” Bosse said in a statement. “Our job is to be proactive and public about what we believe. This is a united City Council and community that cares about health. We are not where we were in 2020, and now we need to move forward as a community and be part of the solution.”

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county would reissue an indoor mask mandate if it reached the high COVID-19 community level defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and stayed there for two weeks in a row.

On July 14, the county entered the high COVID-19 community level and stayed there last week. That means a new mandate could be implemented Friday.

Recent declines in cases and coronavirus-positive hospitalizations could pull Los Angeles County back from the brink of a new universal public indoor mask mandate.

The department is expected to announce a decision on the mandate Thursday.

Being placed in the high level means the county is recording at least 10 new weekly coronavirus-positive hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents and significant community transmission.

However, health officials suggested that the recent fall in cases and in coronavirus hospitalizations could trigger a delay in the mask mandate.

“It’s important to note that we had three instances earlier this spring and summer where we saw dips in cases that were followed shortly by increases,” Ferrer told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “So it’s important for us to continue to be cautious and prepared for layering in additional protections.”

With new COVID-19 boosters expected later this year, health experts urge Californians not to put off a first or second booster shot until then.

Ferrer previously said the county could put a pause on a mandate if transmission had significantly slowed.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the average number of daily new cases over the past week in L.A. County was 6,014, an 11% decrease from a week ago when the daily new cases count was 6,742, according to the county’s public health department.

Hospitalizations also appear to be stabilizing. Over the last seven days, the average number of hospitalized patients per day was 1,262, similar to the seven-day average number of 1,243 one week ago.

“It is my fervent hope that this current surge will abate soon, but, in the meantime, I ask everyone to be cautious and take care of each other, and I thank the many who are doing all they can do to slow the spread,” Ferrer said in a statement.

Two new studies build on evidence that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 jumped to humans in a Wuhan market, and did so twice.


Advertisement