The Los Angeles County Sheriff said his office will not enforce the newly announed mask mandate.
In a statement on Friday (July 16), County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the mandate was “not backed by science” and deputies “will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance”.
Villanueva was responding to an order the day before from the county Department of Public Health which reinstated an order to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
The county, home to 10 million people and the nation’s second-largest city, Los Angeles, is one of several jurisdictions to recommend or mandate wearing masks or other pandemic restrictions in recent days as cases rise to worrisome levels in many parts of the United States.
“We’re requiring masking for everyone while indoors at public settings & businesses, regardless of vaccination status so that we can stop the increased level of transmission we’re seeing,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said on Twitter Thursday (July 15).
The mandate will go into effect Saturday (July 17) night at a minute before midnight, the agency said.
The announcement follows six straight days of more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Los Angeles County, with nearly 400 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday (July 14), up 275 from the week before. Nine new COVID-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday.
More than 1,500 new infections were reported on Thursday, and the county has become a place of “substantial” transmission, based on criteria set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Los Angeles County health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, said in remarks provided to reporters.
(Production: Njuwa Maina / Angela Moore)