Sheriff Villanueva: Wearing masks indoors is not backed by science, contradicts CDC guidelines

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is sounding off on Los Angeles County's recent decision to re-implement an indoor mask mandate for all county residents, regardless of vaccination status.

"Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines," Villanueva wrote in a statement released Friday.

The sheriff said that while the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, the "underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance."

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva

Villanueva encouraged the DPH to work collaboratively with the County Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to "establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science."

County health officials on Thursday announced that the county will again require people to wear masks in indoor settings beginning Saturday night, regardless of their vaccination status.

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

"We're not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something would be too late given what we're seeing now," County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said Thursday.

On Thursday, the county reported 1,537 new infections, the highest number since early March. It was the seventh consecutive day of new case numbers that topped 1,000. Davis said the rate of virus spread in the county has officially risen from moderate to substantial, with infections five times more likely to occur among unvaccinated residents. The current seven-day average rate of daily new cases in the county is now at 7.1 cases per 100,000 residents, up from 4.8 just last week.

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.

As a result, Davis said a revised county Health Officer Order will take effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, requiring people to wear masks in indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.

According to the CDC, the risk of COVID-19 infection is minimal for fully vaccinated people and the risk of transmission from fully vaccinated people to unvaccinated people is also reduced. 

Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.