Group Demands Firing of Los Angeles County Health Director

By Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
February 2, 2022 Updated: February 3, 2022

LOS ANGELES—A nonpartisan group has started a petition calling for the firing of Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer and the end of COVID-19 mandates.

LA Uprising, a grassroots group that represents parents, had gathered nearly 1,000 signatures for the petition by noon on Feb. 2.

Ross Novie, the group’s founder, told The Epoch Times the goal is to return normalcy to the city of Los Angeles.

“A lot of parents, business owners, and nonpartisan people from around the city want to return to normal,” Novie said. “We can protect the vulnerable and still let everybody live their lives the way they see fit.”

Novie, a 25-year veteran of the entertainment industry and father of two LA Unified School District students, said the city and schools risk falling behind the rest of the country.

“The biggest thing for us is really restoring full normalcy for children in the schools,” Novie said.

mask mandate
Dozens of parents protest against the district’s mask mandate during a meeting of the Glendora Unified School District at Sellers Elementary School in Glendora, Los Angeles County, on Aug. 23, 2021. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

In the petition, the LA Uprising blasts Ferrer, saying the LA County Health Department had failed the city as cases continue to be sky-high despite imposing some of the harshest restrictions in the country.

Ferrer’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the petition by press time.

Since March 2020, Los Angeles County has steadily increased several COVID-related restrictions on the public, businesses, and school children. The county continues to operate under emergency public health orders issued by the health department.

Many residents and local elected officials reacted this week to a photo posted on social media showing Gov. Gavin Newsom, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed posing maskless at the Rams–49ers National Football Conference Championship game at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood.

The photos were circulated widely on social media in the face of the governor’s extended state of emergency and mask mandate through Feb. 15.

Los Angeles County’s health requirements require fans attending the Super Bowl at Sofi Stadium on Feb. 13 to provide proof of vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test, and wear masks except when eating or drinking.

Meanwhile, an elected official asked Ferrer to end some mask mandates immediately.

LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger wrote a letter to Ferrer on Feb. 1 requesting that she change the county’s health order immediately by dropping the mask mandates for outdoor mega-events and outdoor school environments. This would align the county’s rules with those imposed by the state.

“I believe that remaining aligned with the state is the most effective way to maintain community trust and support for necessary safety protocols going forward,” Barger wrote in the letter.

In response, the county Health Department defended the mask rules, saying thousands of people are infected with the virus every day and masking remained an important layer of protection, especially for essential workers.

“While we have seen that at some large events where everyone is vaccinated or has a negative test result, like Sunday’s NFC championship game, many were observed not wearing masks, low compliance in particular settings with a critical safety measure, is not a sufficient reason to end the requirement,” a spokesperson for the LA County Health Department told The Epoch Times in an email.

The Health Department equated eliminating masks to ending speed limits.

“That would be like eliminating speed limits because so many drivers ignore them and feel that they can assess for themselves the safe speed for their travel,” the health department said.

When virus transmission is significantly lower, people will not need to wear masks everywhere, but the county is not there yet, according to the health department.

LA Uprising plans to start calling residents and hosting events to boost the petition drive.