These LA County cities won't enforce mask mandates

Following the announcement that the city of Beverly Hills would not be enforcing a mask mandate, a few other cities in Los Angeles County are following suit. 

COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths continue to show signs of stabilizing locally, Los Angeles County's health director said, adding that if the trend continues the county might pause plans to reimpose a universal indoor mask-wearing mandate later this week.

Pasadena, which has its own health department, released a statement saying it would not enforce a mask mandate. Officials said they would "consider appropriate public health actions to protect our community as the situation changes."

On Tuesday, health officials in Long Beach announced the city, instead, will continue to follow California Department of Public Health guidelines, which only recommend—not require—masking in most circumstances, according to Tuesday’s announcement from the city’s health department.

"The (Long Beach) Health Department strongly encourages people to practice personal responsibility and common-sense measures to protect themselves, their loved ones and the greater community from COVID-19," according to a statement from Long Beach. "People are advised to mask indoors when in public places, conduct rapid testing before and three to five days after social gatherings and choose outdoor activities where possible."

El Segundo on Wednesday announced it would not utilize city staff or resources to enforce a potential new health order requiring indoor masking and approved a letter to be sent informing the L.A. County Board of Supervisors of their decision.

"As we approach the third year of the pandemic we are not where we were in 2020," said Mayor Drew Boyles. "My City Council colleagues and I strongly believe the decision to wear a mask should be the choice of the individual and should not be imposed by L.A. County.  Individuals should review the data available and consider their own circumstances and make their own decisions about wearing a mask.  Businesses need to consider the various agencies that regulate their businesses as part of deciding how they will react to a potential change to mask requirements."

Speaking to the Board of Supervisors, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said she was "relieved" to report a continued drop in the average daily number of new infections, with the past seven days seeing roughly 6,100 new cases daily, down from 6,700 the previous week.

She also noted a stabilization in virus-related hospitalizations and deaths, with an average of 14 fatalities per day being reported -- a number that she stressed remains too high.

But she said that, given the steady declines that have been recorded in virus metrics over the past week and a half, "We may be positioned to pause the implementation of universal masking." Such a determination will not be made until Thursday, when updated hospital admission rates are released.

City News Service contributed to this report.