Los Angeles County will not be reimposing an indoor mask mandate for now after COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations appear to be trending downward, and the region may soon move back into the “medium” community level of virus spread, officials announced Thursday.
Public health officials will instead continue to strongly recommend masking up indoors.
New cases and hospitalizations are declining, and the daily case rate for the region has stabilized, Ferrer detailed.
“It will be a welcome relief if this current surge has peaked,” she said.
The county entered the high level on July 14, prompting County Health Director Barbara Ferrer to warn the public about a possible indoor mask mandate being issued to slow the spread.
And while L.A. County remains in the “high” community level based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s indicator, Ferrer said local officials will wait to further analyze data based on its own, more current, metrics.
“Since most of our local data trends have just begun to decline, we decided to take a closer look at the hospital admissions rate using our own data … so that we can get a more precise sense of where we might be headed,” Ferrer said Thursday.
Ferrer remained hopeful that, given the declines in cases and hospitalizations, the county will move back down to the lesser category of community spread. And given that trend, county health officials decided to back away from reinstating the universal indoor masking requirement.
“We will be pausing and not moving forward at this time,” Ferrer indicated.
The threat of returning to the mandate stirred up controversy. Several cities, including Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Long Beach, and most recently El Segundo, had announced this week they would not enforce any mandate.
Additionally, two members of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors had indicated they opposed the reinstating of a the region-wide mask mandate.
In an open letter, Supervisor Kathryn Barger said “masking mandates lack empirical evidence to back their effectiveness, are unenforceable, polarizing, and take a huge toll on the social-emotional well-being of children and youth.”
Similarly, Supervisor Janice Hahn said she would rather be aligned with the state in strongly recommending masks, but not requiring them indoors.
In a statement after the decision was announced, Barger said she was “pleased” the mandate would not return.
“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,” Barger said. “I am comfortable leaving this decision in the public’s very capable hands.”
As of Thursday afternoon, L.A. County reported 7,009 new cases and 18 new deaths.
Currently, masking indoors is required for everyone over 2 years old at the following locations:
- Health care settings
- Public transit and transportation hubs
- Long-term care facilities
- Shelters and cooling centers
- Correctional facilities
- When required by a business or employer
- Outbreaks at worksites
- During the 10 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure
Click here for more information on masking in L.A. County.