LA County considers pausing indoor mask mandate if COVID cases continue to decline

Los Angeles County health officials are debating the return of a universal indoor mask mandate due to a recent decline in COVID-19 cases.

According to LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, deaths and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have slowed down.

She says given the improvements, "we may be positioned to pause the implementation of universal masking."

The county will make its decision on Thursday, July 28.

Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors that if the hospital admission rate of new COVID patients falls by Thursday near the rate of 10 per 100,000 residents, it would "trigger a reassessment on the need to re-implement an indoor masking mandate." As of last Thursday, the rate was 11.7 new admissions per 100,000 residents.


Supervisor Barger on Monday said she will not support a re-imposing of a universal indoor masking mandate. In an open letter sent to her Fifth District constituents, Barger said she believes "masking mandates are polarizing and unenforceable," and said she does not believe such a move would have any major impact.

"I have not seen any empirical data that conclusively shows that masking mandates make a difference in decreasing or stopping COVID-19 transmission rates," Barger wrote. "An analysis of Alameda County's June 2022 masking mandate, in fact, concluded it had no significant impact in comparison to its surrounding counties that did not impose a masking mandate. Alameda County dropped this mandate after only three weeks."

She added that a mandate "will not make a meaningful improvement to the underlying systemic health care inequities that are the true drivers of inequitable rates of COVID-19 deaths and long-term, negative effects."

Barger said in her open statement Monday that she does not oppose mask-wearing, saying it "makes a lot of sense for individuals who want or need an extra layer of protection."

"I support our current COVID-19 public health masking policies, which require their use while using public transportation, in hospitals, homeless shelters and jails. However, imposing a one-size-fits-all masking mandate now for all is not something I can or will support," she wrote.

The Los Angeles County Business Federation, or BizFed, issued a statement last week also opposing a mask-wearing mandate, saying it will put undue burden on small businesses that will have to enforce the requirement.

City News Service contributed to this report