LOS Angeles County has dropped the plan to reissue the universal mask mandate as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have decreased over the last week, LA County Public Health said on Thursday, July 28.
“As I noted last week, any indication that the county would soon be moving to the medium community level would be a good reason to not move forward with universal indoor masking,” LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a briefing on Thursday.
She added, “It will be a welcome relief if this current surge has peaked.”
The warning for a reinstate mask mandate came on July 14 when the county reported a “high” level of transmission, per a recommended metrics system provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Though the county currently remains in the high category, Ferrer said that the county is likely to drop to “medium” levels as local backlogged data are being collected.
As reported in the Asian Journal, LA County Public Health said they wouldn’t reissue the mask mandate — affecting many restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, educational settings, and retail shops — if conditions improve.
Recent surges in positive cases over the summer prompted concern over whether or not the county will revert back to early pandemic protocols. The spread of the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 and the onset of monkeypox in LA County exacerbated the possibility of stricter public safety mandates.
Previously, several jurisdictions — Beverly Hills, El Segundo, Pasadena, and Long Beach — announced that they would not adopt an indoor mask mandate even if one were implemented countywide.
Critics of the mask mandate — including some members of the LA County Board of Supervisors — argue that imposing masking requirements shouldn’t be the first step in curbing the spread of coronavirus.
“I’m hopeful that we will now be able to move on from this heightened focus on masking mandates to what really matters — focusing on promoting the efficacy of vaccines and boosters, improving access to COVID-19 treatments, and continuing to educate our County’s residents on the benefits of masking,” LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement Thursday. “I am comfortable leaving this decision in the public’s very capable hands.”
Businesses may still choose to require masks within their vicinities as they have been throughout the pandemic, and masks are still required in health care settings, homeless shelters, cooling centers, corrections facilities and airports.
Public health experts like Ferrer still recommend wearing masks in highly concentrated public spaces to avoid getting sick.