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Pasadena, Long Beach health officials say no to indoor mask mandate proposal

Pasadena, Long Beach health officials say no to indoor mask mandate proposal
Pasadena, Long Beach health officials say no to indoor mask mandate proposal 03:05

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

Tuesday evening the City of Long Beach and Pasadena, which both have health departments separate from the LA County Department of Health, said there would not be enforcement of a mask mandate if it were to come back.

"Pasadena Public Health Department has determined that jurisdictional COVID-19 confirmed case rates have declined for about 10 days, and local hospitalization metrics have not continued to increase during that time," health officials from Pasadena released in a statement. "The City of Pasadena health officer will not be issuing a general indoor mask mandate at this time." 

Health officials with the City of Long Beach released a similar statement, saying, in part: 

Despite rising cases, hospitalizations among Long Beach residents remain stable, area hospitals have adequate capacity and fatalities remain low. Therefore, regarding masking, the City of Long Beach will continue to align with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which strongly urges, but does not require, masking in most circumstances.

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 being reported, with the past seven days seeing roughly 6,100 new cases daily, down from 6,700 the previous week.

The change of plans comes after the Beverly Hills City Council Monday night unanimously voted not to uphold the mandate, should it be imposed again. 

Ferrar 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.

Ferrer said earlier a new indoor mask mandate would be imposed on Friday if the county remains in the "high" virus activity category -- with a new daily virus-related hospital admission rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents. That number as of last Thursday was 11.7 per 100,000.

Ferrer said Tuesday that if the county is at least approaching the 10 per 100,000 residents level by Thursday, it would "trigger a reassessment on the need to reimplement an indoor masking mandate."

She stressed during her presentation, however, that transmission of COVID-19 remains high across the county, and the virus is still a leading cause of death, killing more people in the first six months of the year than drug overdoses, the flu and traffic crashes combined.

But the idea of a renewed indoor masking mandate has generated opposition, including from the Los Angeles County Business Federation last week and on Monday from county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who said she believes in the effectiveness of masks, but not of mask mandates. Barger repeated Tuesday that she does not believe there is any "empirical data" proving that a mask mandate will be more effective than what the county does now -- which is strongly recommend masks.

"I am adamantly opposed to mandating the masking, because I truly do believe it's going to have the opposite effect," Barger said.

Barger earned some support Tuesday from Supervisor Janice Hahn, who said she fears imposing a universal mandate "will be very divisive for L.A. County."

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