LA County Sheriff Says He Will Not Enforce COVID Mask Mandate

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Posted: Jul 17, 2021 12:15 PM
LA County Sheriff Says He Will Not Enforce COVID Mask Mandate

Source: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that his department will not enforce the county's indoor mask mandate, which was reimposed this week after a surge in COVID-19 cases in the area.

Villanueva said that an indoor face covering requirement for individuals who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 before "is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines."

"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 in a Friday statement, according to Fox News. "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."

The county Department of Public Health on Thursday reinstated a mask requirement for indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. This comes just one month after California dropped its statewide mask mandate for vaccinated residents.

"We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late, given what we’re seeing," L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a briefing.

The revived mandate will go into effect Saturday at 11:59 p.m. Masks will be required in gyms, retail stores, restaurants and other indoor settings.

Davis said that COVID-19 transmission has steadily risen following the county reopening on June 15. The Delta variant has led to concerns from health officials as it is more contagious than other stains. 

The Public Health Department said Friday that the coronavirus positivity rate increased by 700 percent in one month, from 0.5 percent to 3.7 percent. 

Other areas, including Las Vegas, Orlando and the state of Mississippi, are issuing updated coronavirus guidance, advising residents to wear masks and avoid large public gatherings. However, no mandate has been reinstated in any of these locations.