California announced that the mask mandate will be lifted starting Feb. 15 after the mandate was reinstated in mid-December when the Omicron variant peaked in the state.
However, Los Angeles County said that it intends to keep its mask mandate in place, making it the only county other than Santa Clara to do so.
According to a Deadline article, the Director of Los Angeles Public Health Barbara Ferrer said at a press briefing that the problem with the mask mandate lift is timing.
“This is not the right time to stop wearing our masks indoors and in crowded outdoor settings,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer also stated that the post-surge trigger for easing some restrictions would be when virus-related hospitalizations fall below 2,500 for seven straight days. They currently clock in at 2,773, a sizable drop from 3,398 on Thursday. That easing would not include indoor masking, however. It would only be for masking at large outdoor events.
Even though the case numbers may be falling, it is not yet time to take off the masks. There should be concern if the current rate of cases per day goes up again.
According to an article from The Los Angeles Times, the current case rate for LA County is 9,500 cases per day, one-fifth of the Omicron peak of 44,000 from January. This rate is still six times more than the December average, which was 1,600 cases per day in the county.
These numbers should be a cause for concern, despite California having the highest vaccination rate in the United States, with 69.8% of the state being fully vaccinated and 81.2% having at least one dose as of Feb.11.
California was once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, having been the second state to close down after New York on March 10, 2020. Who is to say that it won’t be that way again if the state were to lift its mask mandate?
If we were to remove the mask mandate after Feb. 15, the number of infections would rise again, as well as hospitalization and case numbers.
The state would be forced to shut down fully for a second time, including businesses, schools and universities/colleges returning to learning on Zoom.
The country has been forced to combat the pandemic and among other arising issues.
In a press release, LA County District Two Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell said that the city cannot ignore the realities of public health orders that show up in hand with the pandemic in the county.
“Two years of fighting this pandemic has taught us many lessons, including the fact that wearing masks helps stop the spread of COVID-19,” Mitchell said.
If there is one thing that we should not take for granted, it is that everyone suffers from COVID-19 differently. Those that are immunocompromised are expected to take extra precautions than those who are not.
Lifting the mask mandate is the last thing the county should have to deal with, especially considering the COVID surge in the winter.