Proposed indoor mask mandate could be scrapped, LA health officials say

Los Angeles County’s health director said Tuesday that the numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to show signs of stabilizing locally, meaning the county may halt plans to reimpose a The universal mandate of wearing inner masks later this week.

On Tuesday evening, the City of Long Beach and Pasadena, which both have separate health departments from the LA County Health Department, said there would be no enforcement of a mask mandate if it were to return.

“The Pasadena Department of Public Health has determined that jurisdictional rates of confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been declining for approximately 10 days, and local hospitalization rates have not continued to increase during that time,” health officials said in a statement. from Pasadena. “The City of Pasadena Health Officer will not issue a general mandate for indoor masks at this time.”

City of Long Beach health officials issued a similar statement, saying, in part:

Despite the increase in cases, hospitalizations among Long Beach residents remain stable, area hospitals have sufficient capacity and deaths remain low. Therefore, regarding masking, the City of Long Beach will continue to align with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which strongly requires but does not require masking in most circumstances.

Speaking to the Board of Supervisors, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said she was “relieved” to report a continued decline in the average daily number of new infections reported, with the past seven days seeing roughly 6,100 cases of new per day, up from 6,700 last week.

The change of plans comes after the Beverly Hills City Council on Monday night voted unanimously not to hold the mandate, if he will be appointed again.

Ferrar also noted a stabilization in hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus, with an average of 14 deaths per day reported — a number she stressed remains too high.

But she said that, given the continued declines that have been recorded in virus measurements over the past week and a half, “We can position ourselves to stop the implementation of universal masking.” Such a determination will not be made until Thursday, when updated hospital admission rates are released.

Ferrer earlier said a new indoor mask mandate would be imposed Friday if the county remains in the “high” virus activity category — with a new virus-related hospital admission rate higher than 10 per 100,000 inhabitants. That number as of last Thursday was 11.7 per 100,000.

Ferrer said Tuesday that if the county is approaching at least a level of 10 per 100,000 residents by Thursday, that would “trigger a reassessment of the need to re-enforce an indoor mask mandate.”

She emphasized during her presentation, however, that the transmission of COVID-19 remains high across the county and the virus is still a leading cause of death, killing more people in the first six months of the year than drug overdoses, the flu and traffic. combined collisions.

But the idea of ​​a renewed indoor mask mandate has drawn opposition, including from the Los Angeles County Business Federation last week and on Monday from County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who said she believes in the effectiveness of masks but not in the mandates of the masks. Barger reiterated Tuesday that she doesn’t believe there is any “empirical data” that proves a mask mandate will be more effective than what the county does now — which strongly recommends masks.

“I’m adamantly against mandating facemasks because I really believe it will have the opposite effect,” Barger said.

Barger won some support Tuesday from Supervisor Janice Hahn, who said she feared imposing a universal mandate “will be very disruptive to LA County.”

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