Labor Union Calls For Mask Enforcement In Orange County

Ashley Ludwig

ORANGE COUNTY, CA — While the state of California's leadership has called for mandatory masks while in public spaces amid the coronavirus pandemic, there are those in Orange County who continue to balk at the idea. On Monday, the union behind Orange County's workers called for common sense and compliance from the Orange County Board of Supervisors and the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

On Monday, Orange County's Labor Federation held a press conference outside of their saying that many "are not complying" with the mask order, and asking for help with a mask order that is "not being enforced."

Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation saying that masks must be worn "in most situations while indoors" and "outdoors when a person cannot maintain six feet of social distance." Newsom's mask order is in place for passengers and drivers of ride-sharing vehicles and those using public transportation.

In May, Orange County, Sheriff Don Barnes—who heads the largest police force in Orange County—has stated that he "will not be the mask police."

Last week, when the union leaders held a news conference outside the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting, it degenerated into a chaotic scene as opponents of mask mandates shouted over them. Union leaders called on Sheriff Don Barnes and the Board of Supervisors to back the state's mandate more vocally. Barnes issued a statement last week saying he expects residents to "continue to use common-sense approaches for the benefit of their own health, as well as the collective health of other county residents."

On Monday, Gloria Alvarado, executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation, acknowledged the difficulty of enforcing a mask mandate. Still, she said the sheriff hindered compliance by declaring he would not enforce it.

Alvarado said, "We would like the Board of Supervisors and the sheriff to stand with the majority of the community and enforce the mask usage."

The opponents of mask-wearing are in the minority, according to Alvarado, however they are among the most outwardly vocal.

She said Barnes is "in a position of leadership" where he can influence others to wear a mask.

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City News Service, Patch Editor Ashley Ludwig, contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on the Lake Forest Patch