Los Angeles County officials announced Thursday that they would not impose a new indoor mask mandate, two weeks after a “watch period” was triggered by high levels of Covid transmission.
“While hospitalizations and cases are still elevated, we’re relieved to see declines across these two metrics,” county health director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday. “There has been a fairly steady decline in cases since July 23, potentially signaling an end to this current surge.”
Ferrer said two weeks ago that the county could once again reimpose a mask mandate after entering the CDC’s “high” level of community transmission. Now, Ferrer said, internal county data found that hospitalizations have fallen to 9.7 admissions per 100,000, under the CDC’s threshold between high and medium-level community transmission, according to Deadline.
“We will be pausing our universal indoor mask mandate,” she said in response to the new data.
“We’re hopeful that the [hospital] admission rate remains under 10 for the next few days,” she said. “The clock is stopped [on a mask mandate] at the moment. I hesitate to call it a ‘pause’ because the data indicates we’re headed back toward the CDC’s medium level.” That would mean indoor masking would only be strongly encouraged.
A new universal mandate would have required masking in all indoor public spaces, such as offices, retail stores, schools, restaurants, and bars. The county already requires masking in “high risk settings” such as health-care facilities, on Metro trains and buses, as well as in airports, jails, and homeless shelters.
The announcement comes after county supervisor Kathryn Barger told Ferrer on Tuesday that the county doesn’t “really have empirical data that show mandating is more effective than strongly suggesting.”
Meanwhile, several cities in L.A. County said earlier this week that they would not enforce a mask mandate, including Long Beach, Pasadena, and Beverly Hills.