Amid protests and new data, Los Angeles health officials have dropped a plan to reauthorize the indoor mask

Los Angeles County public health officials cited a decline in hospitalizations of COVID-19 when they refrained Thursday from reauthorizing the indoor mask that was due to come back into effect Friday.

In a meeting broadcast live, Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer spoke to reporters about the decision, which she said was made solely on the basis of a downward trend in the critical illness of those infected with COVID-19.

“As I indicated last week, any indication that the county will soon move to the ‘medium’ community level would be a good reason not to move forward with mass indoor masking, which we are doing today,” Ferrer said. , “We will pause and not advance at this time.”

The “medium” transmission designation refers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s three-tiered classification of the spread of COVID-19. Since Los Angeles County is following CDC guidelines, a “high” rating would lead to the return of the internal concealment mandate.

Dr.  Barbara Ferrer passes over a sandwich panel saying: Get a free COVID-19 rapid test.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health, visits a free rapid COVID-19 test site at Los Angeles International Airport in December last year. (Ginaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Days before the decision, health officials said it was imperative that the indoor mask be reauthorized. As of July 28, COVID-19 cases in the county were still high, but since July 23, the number of hospitalizations due to illness caused by exposure to the coronavirus has steadily decreased.

Technically, transmission of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County is still at a high level, but given more recent information in the county, the CDC encouraged local health officials to reverse course.

“Two weeks ago, on July 14, the CDC reported that Los Angeles County moved from the ‘medium’ to ‘high’ community level, and according to the CDC’s latest calculations, that’s what we posted on their data tracker yesterday,” Ferrer said. : “We are still at a high level this week.”

However, she added, “When we use Los Angeles County data on hospital admissions, we’re going from the high community level to the mid-community level, because our admission rate that counts throughout the 27th day is now 9.7 new admissions for 100,000 people.”

Store manager, Nicolas Ignacio, wearing a mask, serves two customers from behind the counter.

Collector’s Paradise store manager Nicholas Ignacio at a comic book store in the Winnetka neighborhood of Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

Had the data shown numbers of more than 10 per 100,000 residents, Ferrer said the county would have gone ahead with authorization, despite the public uproar over the decision. When pressed by journalists about whether emails from the public and public dissent from several local politicians influenced her decision, she said the decision was based solely on data.

Beverly Hills Mayor Lily Boss has been vocal about his opposition to the reimposition of the mask mandate and vowed it would not be carried out.

“This is a matter of choice,” Posey told NBC Los Angeles. “Store owners will continue to be subject to the LA County Public Health order, but they also have the ability to understand that we will not be sending our app in Beverly Hills to implement it.”

Officials in Pasadena, El Segundo and Long Beach have also spoken out against a return to requiring masks to be worn indoors in stores and businesses. But Ferrer stresses that the decision is based on the data.

Customers in the store post two signs, one in Spanish and one in English, that say: No face masks, no service.

A store asking shoppers to wear masks, at Santee Alley on July 14 in Los Angeles. (Irrfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“I get a lot of emails and have a lot of conversations with people who are in favor of hiding enclosed spaces, and sometimes those voices get buried,” Ferrer said. “I always welcome people to make sure we are aware of their ideas.”

As of Thursday, Ferrer said there were 7,009 new cases reported, 1,239 hospitalizations and an average of 15 deaths per day over the past week in Los Angeles County.

Had the authorization been in effect, it would have lasted for two weeks, or until Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed cases were heading in the right direction. Despite the ongoing evolution of the virus, Ferrer believes there is no reason to expect a mandate in the near future.

“We’re in a state of regression now, and it’s hard for us to imagine putting the blanket inner mask back on when we’re in a major regression,” she said. “Should we see another significant increase in cases and an increase in hospital admissions, which we don’t think is likely in the very near future because of the trends we are seeing…but we have to go back and re-evaluate whether we are resetting the clock around need To stay in the “high”.

Dr.  Barbara Ferrer, wearing a black mask, at the microphone.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer addresses an event in Los Angeles to launch coronavirus vaccinations for children at Eugene A. 3, 2021 (Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Yahoo News asked White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre Thursday about the confusion of the CDC’s messaging regarding how the country is dealing with the ongoing pandemic, especially with highly contagious variants such as BA.5 becoming widespread.

“There is BA.5, and it is highly contagious. This is the most transmissible alternative we have seen so far, so you will see local governments making their own decisions,” Jean-Pierre said. Concealment, and depending on the situations in your area. So that’s what we will continue to tell people, and our message has not changed.”

Ferrer still believes that Los Angeles County residents who are at risk should consider wearing masks indoors, although it’s not a requirement.

“The most frustrating misinformation circulating is the idea that almost no one is dying from COVID right now,” she said. This ignores the real suffering and pain of those who lose their family members to COVID and ignores the brutal death rate still associated with this pandemic. The truth is that more than 4,300 people died from COVID in the first half of 2022 alone. That’s more than the six-month average for deaths from drug overuse, seasonal flu, and car accidents combined.”

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