After officials aflutter over COVID numbers imposed a mask mandate on Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva called them out as a group of Chicken Littles.
On Friday, the county announced that masks are now required in indoor settings whether people are vaccinated or not on the grounds that this could address the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, according to the Los Angeles Times. The rationale was that cases have risen over the past month, even though the levels are far below those of a year ago.
In gushing over the announcement, the Times fawned that “L.A. County could provide a blueprint for blunting transmission without resorting to the business closures and lockdowns that sparked so much frustration and fear over the last 16 months.”
Villanueva, whose department went through the funding wringer amid the “defund the police” craze, was not impressed.
.@lapublichealth has authority to enforce a new mask order, but the underfunded/defunded will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance. Read my full statement by visiting https://t.co/DVBvmRbFA9 pic.twitter.com/Je1nMerWrO
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) July 16, 2021
“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,” he said in a statement.
“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has 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,” he said.
Villanueva closed by suggesting policies be mixed with a tincture of reality.
“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,” he said.
Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, an epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said although he doubts the variant will impact L.A. in the same way as the initial spread of the virus, he is “concerned about the trajectory and the speed of the doubling of new cases,” according to the Times.
Although the order covers everyone regardless of vaccination status, Kim-Farley said it could be a catalyst.
“Hopefully, this will be the wakeup call for those who are still vaccine hesitant to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated,” he said.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases specialist at UC San Francisco, said allowing vaccinated individuals to ditch their masks has provided a tangible benefit to getting the shot.
Taking away that benefit, she argued, could make those who have not been vaccinated even less likely to gat a shot.
“There’s a clear, bright line in terms of what needs to be done,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, LA County’s health officer.
“This is an ‘everybody’ moment in terms of wearing your mask indoors, and it’s something we’ll continue to look at and see how things go. But in general, from what we’ve heard from businesses, it’s easier and better for us to do this and it’s much easier for people to understand,” she said.
But resident Vanessa Magaña was succinct in her opposition.
“I just think it’s crap,” she said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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