The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has decided not to enforce the county’s health directive reintroducing mask use indoors, claiming that the decision “is not supported by evidence.”
In response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the indoor mask mandate was reintroduced in Los Angeles County on Thursday. It applies to those who have been vaccinated and goes into effect before midnight Saturday.
Forcing vaccinated persons and those who have already caught COVID-19 to wear masks indoors, according to the sheriff’s office, “is not supported by science.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva stated in a press release Friday that the “underfunded/defunded” sheriff’s department “will not waste our limited resources and instead seek for voluntary compliance.”
He highlighted that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health had enforcement power over the order and urged the department to “work constructively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to develop standards that are both attainable and backed by science.”
Since fully reopening on June 15, California has witnessed a dramatic increase in viral infections. Cases had been declining prior to the reopening, and the virus’s future appeared to be bright.
The county’s public health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, said that issuing tickets to those who do not follow the rules is “not something we really want to have to do.”
There were 1,902 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the county on Friday, with six deaths. Officials cautioned that the number of infections is increasing among young adults, with 71 percent of new viral cases recorded on Friday among individuals aged 18 to 49, according to public health officials.
A test positive rate of 3.8 percent was revealed on Friday, a significant increase from the 0.4 percent rate recorded in early June. There are 452 individuals in hospitals with the virus right now, up from 216 just a month ago.
Adults aged 18 to 49 years old have the most cases and are seeing the greatest growth. 71 percent of the new cases reported by Public Health Saturday are among adults aged 18 to 49.
“We are witnessing over 99 percent of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among unvaccinated persons,” Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health for Los Angeles County, said in a statement Monday.
Breakthrough infections, in which a person who has been vaccinated develops COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated, are rare, but they nevertheless pose a risk, according to officials. As of Tuesday, there were 4,122 confirmed viral cases among the county’s more than 4 million vaccinated residents, according to the statement.
The county is seeing “present considerable and rising community transmission,” according to the statement, and “masking by everyone indoors can minimize everyone’s risk of illness and the danger of transfer to others if sick.”
At least seven California counties, including San Francisco and Alameda, issued mask recommendations this week, in response to the growing number of cases.