LOS ANGELES — Another Los Angeles County Supervisor has drawn a line in the sand over mask mandates, saying she won’t back them either.
Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn said her office has been inundated with messages from people who don’t want to wear masks and likely won’t if ordered wear them.
“I’m worried we’re losing the trust of a portion of the public who have been with us up to this point,” Hahn said Tuesday. “Shoutout to the public. Generally, they’ve been pretty great about what we’ve asked them to do. Everything from the dark days when we had to shut down restaurants, and they began to pivot and do online ordering. Many of them got into curb side pick up. These are businesses that never had to do that before.”
Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued an open letter Monday evening addressing many of the same concerns. Both wonder if people will actually abide by the new mandate for which there are few tools to enforce.
Hahn echoed another point Barger made: vaccine and booster shots, with more customized versions on the way, are now available. They weren’t at the start of the pandemic when hospitalizations were high enough to put a greater strain on doctors and nurses.
“I’m one of those folks who hoped we wouldn’t be here again contemplating the need for more masking requirements and I honestly believe there is a significant number of our population who are not willing to accept mask mandate,” Hahn said.
Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles Department of Health, has remained consistent, saying she thinks the transmission rate is too high. Her worries stem, partly, from the likelihood that an increase in case rates in the summer will convert to even higher rates in the winter when more people are spending longer periods of time inside.
“I’m not just worried about stress on the health care system,” Ferrer said. “When you have this high a rate of transmission, it will lead to, tragically, more deaths. I think the question everyone has to ask themselves is ‘How much death do you want to tolerate before you ask people during these extraordinary times of high transmission to put their masks back on?’ I’m definitely saying, clearly, out loud to everyone, and have been for weeks, that the death rate is too high.”
Hospitalization numbers are a key gauge.
Last Thursday, the rate of hospitalization was 11.7 per 100,000 people, a number Ferrer said is too high. If it drops to 10 per 100,000, she said it would "trigger a reassessment on the need to re-implement an indoor masking mandate."
The announcement on whether there will be a new indoor mask mandate is expected Thursday. If implemented, it would go into effect Friday, July 30.