LA County residents react to return of indoor mask mandate, health expert says it was necessary

The news of Los Angeles County reinstating its indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, is sparking mixed reactions.

"I would have to look a little bit more at the studies and science and statistics, but we both work in hospitals and the masks are required in hospitals every day anyway so in that sense, we kind of are used to it," said Brad and Jan, who are both nurses. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Los Angeles County re-implementing indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status

Emily Wood, a Los Angeles County resident, said she is not surprised.  

"I think it makes sense because as long as people continue to believe that their freedom would be infringed upon by having to tell people if they've been vaccinated, then we need to ask everyone to wear a mask," she said.  

Dr. Edward Blews III from Kaiser Permanente said the mandate is necessary for now. 

"My initial thoughts were this is a logical step on the part of our public health department. The idea here is effectively to minimize any risk of COVID-19 transmission to any individuals so individuals who do receive the COVID-19 vaccine are protected against developing severe COVID and the consequences of severe COVID that does include hospitalization and include death as well. But individuals who have received the vaccine, there is still a possibility of transmission of the virus to other individuals, including those who are potentially vulnerable or those who did not yet receive the immunization," he said.

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.

Blews said it is also difficult to know who is vaccinated and who isn't, and health officials believe many unvaccinated individuals are entering indoor establishments maskless despite the health guidance. 

"We don't necessarily know who's vaccinated versus not vaccinated when you're walking into an indoor space where, typically, ventilation isn't as good as outdoor locations so this is effectively a way for the public health department to continue to protect the vulnerable populations that are still in existence," he said.

Blews said the key is to increase vaccination rates.

"There's still a significant number of individuals who remain vulnerable and the best way we can end these mask mandates and end the pandemic, as Governor Newsom mentioned, we need to improve the vaccination rates across our communities," he said.

Health officials from Orange and Riverside counties said their mask mandates will remain unchanged at this time following the news out of Los Angeles County. The CDC is also maintaining its guidance allowing vaccinated individuals to go maskless indoors.

The city of Long Beach and Pasadena both have their own health departments. Long Beach is aligning with LA County, implementing a mask mandate indoors at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, and Pasadena is reviewing its policy. 

Data shows around 61% of LA County residents are fully vaccinated with around 40% unvaccinated.