The Beverly Hills city council unanimously voted against enforcing an LA County mask mandate which is expected to be reissued by Public Health Department officials.
The county is considered to have a “high” level of COVID-19 community spread according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – prompting speculation that the indoor mask mandate may be renewed this week.
Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse said the city has “more important issues” and that masking is not a priority.
“I very much believe in the power of choice. I think we’ve learned a lot since 2020, and it also became a function of enforcement,” Bosse told “Fox & Friends” on July 28. “Basically there’s no judgment if somebody wants to wear a mask. Wear a mask, of course. And if you feel vulnerable, wear a mask. And if you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t wear a mask.”
“If L.A. County puts down this mandate, we felt that they can go out and enforce it,” she added, acknowledging that Beverly Hills is under the authority of LA County health officials.
Bosse said the city is focused on carrying out mental wellness checks and keeping “our streets and our parks safe.”
LA County’s Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has previously indicated that she will extend the indoor mask mandate as long as COVID-19 activity levels, such as infections, hospitalization, and deaths, remain high, per NBC Los Angeles.
On July 26, just over 2,000 new cases were reported in the county. Roughly 30,966 people have died from COVID-19 in the county since the onset of the pandemic. The LA County COVID-19 dashboard indicates a death rate of 298 out of every 100,000 people.
LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued a public statement on July 25 opposing the extension of the indoor mask mandate. Barger represents the Fifth District, which includes 20 cities throughout the San Gabriel, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Crescenta, and Antelope Valleys.
“It’s clear that COVID-19, for the foreseeable future, is here to stay. We are learning to live through its countless mutations, spikes in infections, and corresponding strains on our hospitals and workforce,” Barger wrote in an open letter to her constituents.
The supervisor noted that she supports vaccines and booster shots as a tool to combat the spread of the virus and urged residents to get the COVID-19 if they have not gotten a vaccine in the last six months or during 2022.
“However, I have not seen any empirical data that conclusively shows that masking mandates make a difference in decreasing or stopping COVID-19 transmission rates,” Barger added.
“What I have seen, time and time again, is that masking mandates actually distract our collective efforts to decrease COVID-19 infection rates,” she wrote. “I believe masking mandates are polarizing and are unenforceable.”
Barger also expressed concern that the county had not “fully examined nor understand the costs associated with imposing masking mandates among our children and youth.”
“Masking mandates will not make a meaningful improvement to the underlying systemic healthcare inequities that are the true drivers of inequitable rates of COVID-19 deaths and long-term, negative effects,” Barger said, noting her opposition to a “one-size-fits-all masking mandate.”
LA County is one of a dozen counties with “high” virus activity levels but it is the only one considering a mask mandate, per the Press-Telegram.
If county health officials extend the indoor mask mandate, it will remain in effect until COVID-19 virus activity levels remain in the CDC’s “medium” range for two full weeks.