Los Angeles County is ignoring the science on masking and current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to demand that residents, even those who are vaccinated against COVID-19, wear a mask indoors.
According to a health order from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which targeted churches for staying open during the pandemic, everyone, “regardless of vaccination status,” will be required to wear a mask indoors “as Los Angeles County sees more than a seven-times increase in new cases since the June 15 reopening.”
“This additional layer of protection can help to slow the spread and does not limit business occupancy and operations,” the order, issued just two days before it went into effect, states. “Because of this rapid rise, as well as the increasing presence of the more easily transmitted Delta variant of the virus, and the millions of people potentially at risk of infection, together we must reduce our risk of infection and our risk for potentially infecting others.”
In addition to mandating that people once again “mask up,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis threatened the area with more restrictions if residents don’t comply.
“We expect to keep masking requirements in place until we begin to see improvements in our community transmission of COVID-19. But waiting for us to be at high community transmission level before making a change would be too late. Masking indoors must again become a normal practice by all, regardless of vaccination status, so that we can stop the trends and level of transmission we are currently seeing,” he said.
The health officer continued by claiming that the “best protective action” against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, despite his demands that vaccinated people still need to wear a mask.
“We continue to urge all eligible residents to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves and their family and friends. Becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19 remains the best protective action that people can take if they are eligible for it. Although not at 100%, it significantly reduces the risk of infection and, for the small number of people that get infected, it reduces the risk of hospitalization and death once you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” he said.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy supported the newest order and claimed it was “very reasonable.” Murthy said he “anticipate[s] that will happen in other parts of the country too.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he would not enforce the new order because it is “counter to science.” Villanueva says he doesn’t want to spend “limited resources” and is “instead ask[ing] for voluntary compliance.”
“Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” Villanueva said.