Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis spoke in defense of the newly reinstated countywide mask mandate on July 18, calling it unpleasant but necessary.
The new mandate, which went into effect one minute before midnight on July 17, requires all residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
According to the county’s public health department, the mandate is meant to counter a rising transmission rate from the Delta variant of the virus, as well as an “intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown.”
“I would say that it’s not punishment, it’s prevention,” Solis said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I’m not pleased that we have to go back to using the masks in this matter, but, nonetheless, it’s going to save lives. And right now, that to me, is what’s most important. And really getting more people to understand that they have to get vaccinated.”
The reimposed mask mandate was met with criticism, as many question whether it’s necessary to require vaccinated people to wear masks in indoor settings. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) announced on July 16 that while the agency expects the community to voluntarily comply with the order, its deputies won’t enforce it.
“Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear face masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement. “The underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance.”
When asked about the LASD’s response, Solis replied that she doesn’t understand why the department chose to weigh in on the matter.
“Our public health department is typically the individuals that go out and do inspections. So I don’t see where the sheriff really has to come in and weigh in on the matter that he might have thought,” she said.
“And besides, he’s just saying that he’s going to allow people to do what they need to do. I’m not concerned about that. I think the public overall is smart enough to understand what is being said and how to protect themselves.”
On July 17, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 1,827 new positive cases, 462 hospitalizations, and 11 new deaths from COVID-19. The number marks an eight-fold jump in cases since June 15, when the state of California lifted capacity limits and physical distancing requirements in businesses and most other locations. The daily transmission rate, however, only increased by 0.5 percent over the past month.