Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced her agency will not reinstate an indoor mask mandate aimed at combating COVID-19, citing a recent drop in cases over the past few weeks.
On July 14, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said that a new universal indoor mask mandate could be implemented if the county remains within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "high" level of COVID-19 transmission — when new COVID-19 related hospital admissions reach more than 10 per 100,000 residents. according to FOX 11.
During a press conference on Thursday, Ferrer said her office will be "pausing" the plan to implement a universal masking policy, stating that the county COVID-19 transmission levels are headed in the direction of "medium," as defined by the CDC.
Currently, COVID-19 transmission levels within the county are considered as "high" by the CDC, as there are 11.7 coronavirus-related hospital admissions per 100,000 residents.
The county's masking requirement for health care settings, public transportation, long-term care centers, correctional facilities and more is still in place.
While Ferrer didn't reinstate a mask mandate, she said that "indoor masking is still strongly advised."
The decision comes after criticism from county leaders was leveled at Ferrer, including from Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse, who told Fox News on Thursday that she wouldn't enforce it.
"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. We have more important issues to enforce, in my opinion, and in the council's opinion regarding mental wellness checks for the unhoused [and] keeping our streets and our parks safe," Bosse said. "L.A. County, Beverly Hills is still under L.A. County public health rules, but we in Beverly Hills don't have to use our enforcement to enforce it. So if L.A. County puts down this mandate, we felt that they can go out and enforce it."
The Beverly Hills City Council also voted to not enforce the mask mandate.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in an open letter posted on social media that she hasn't seen evidence supporting a mask mandate, adding they are "polarizing" and "unenforceable."
"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 said. "What I have seen, time and time again, is that masking mandates actually distract our collective efforts to decrease COVID-19 infection rates. I believe masking mandates are polarizing and are unenforceable. I also believe we have not fully examined nor understand the costs associated with imposing masking mandates among our children and youth. I’ve heard loud and clear from parents and caregivers who are witnessing the social-emotional toll our County’s children are shouldering."
Fox News' Michael Lee contributed to this report