For the last couple of weeks, Los Angeles County health officials have been warning the public that a return to compelled indoor masking was imminent. But with just days left to spare, they’re now hinting that maybe we can just skip that.
L.A. first hit the “high” level of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s three-tier assessment rating of community COVID risk on July 14, setting up the county for a reissued mask mandate if it remained there for two weeks—meaning that the earliest any mandate could go into effect is July 29.
So far this week, Beverly Hills let it be known that it will not be enforcing any required face-covering, and even L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued a public statement expressing skepticism that bringing back the mandate would curb the spread, saying that a recent study “in fact, concluded it had no significant impact in comparison to its surrounding counties that did not impose a masking mandate.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reports, L.A. County was averaging about 6,000 coronavirus cases a day over the previous week, but that was down 11 percent from the prior week’s average of 6,700 cases a day.
A flattening of coronavirus cases in L.A. County was first detected in the middle of last week, and on Friday the county started to record week-over-week declines. On July 20, 1,329 COVID-positive patients were hospitalized across the county, but that number dropped to 1,200 by Friday, before inching back up over the weekend, to 1,286 on Monday.
These recent declines in cases and COVID-related hospitalizations could help Los Angeles avert yet another mask order, according to the Times, with health officials noting on Tuesday that improvements in some COVID-19 measure might score the county a reprieve from any new mask command.
But perhaps not.
As ever, don’t bring your parade around Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, “It’s important to note that we had three instances earlier this spring and summer where we saw dips in cases that were followed shortly by increases. So it’s important for us to continue to be cautious and prepared for layering in additional protections.”
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