LA Sheriff won’t enforce indoor mask mandates “not backed by science”

LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva stated that his department will not be enforcing the indoor mask mandate the health department reinstituted over the weekend.  

Villanueva said that he will be focusing the department’s limited resources elsewhere and that the mandate is “not backed by science.” He also encouraged the health department to collaborate with other agencies to create realistic and scientific policies.

“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.  The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has the authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance.  We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”

The mandate calls for mask-wearing in “all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and businesses,” including schools and daycare facilities. The health department also recommends “double masking” for a greater level of protection against unvaccinated people. 

“No, this isn’t how science works,” said one Twitter user in response to the mandate.

Kathryn Barger, the sole Republican on the LA County Board of Supervisors, expressed concern about the mandate sending mixed messages to the public. “LA County should align with the State on all health officer orders. By deviating, we create confusion and disagreement at the local level.”

LA County has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases recently. The 7-day daily average case rate is 8.2 per 100,000 as of July 9, 2021. “The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates, and the increase in hospitalizations signals immediate action must be taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Otherwise, we may quickly see more devastating illness and death among the millions of residents,” said LA County Health Officer Mantu Davis.

Davis thanked residents who have been vaccinated and encouraged others to do the same. “The urgency to get more people vaccinated remains high with this level of spread. For everyone whose eligible and still waiting to get vaccinated, the time do it is now (sic).”

California fully reopened June 15, and as of June 11, 56% of LA County residents had been fully vaccinated.