Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
Any hopes Los Angeles County officials might have had about uniformly returning to indoor mask mandates just took a quartet of brutal blows.
Four cities — Beverly Hills, Long Beach, Pasadena, and El Segundo — have all announced they will not enforce mask mandates should the county opt to require masks due to a spike in COVID cases that experts say could arise from particularly contagious subvariants.
An announcement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health about expanded indoor mask requirements is expected as early as Thursday.
While anti-mask observers might leap at the thought of a potential rebellion in California, none of the four cities are behaving particularly radically. From a strictly legal standpoint, Pasadena and Long Beach are operating within the bounds of the law, as each of those cities possesses its own board of health and can make health policies outside of the purview of county officials.
Still, there is something to be said for California cities bucking COVID protocol trends at all, and Beverly Hills and El Segundo could be operating outside the wishes of county public health officials if a new mandate is announced.
Beverly Hills made its announcement Monday when Mayor Lili Bosse seemed to channel Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as she alluded to bodily autonomy, a notion that would have been ill-received in her state only two years ago.
“I feel it is our job to lead and I support the power of choice,” Bosse said in a statement. “Our job is to be proactive and public about what we believe. This is a united City Council and community that cares about health. We are not where we were in 2020, and now we need to move forward as a community and be part of the solution.”
El Segundo, Pasadena, and Long Beach followed with their own announcements on Tuesday. Pasadena, perhaps best known to most Americans as the home of the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses Parade, shared its statement on Twitter.
COVID-19 confirmed case rates have declined for ~10 days and local hospitalizations haven't continued to increase during that time. With input from healthcare provider partners, the City's health officer will NOT be issuing a general indoor mask mandate at this time. pic.twitter.com/vUHG2Y0te1
— City of Pasadena (@PasadenaGov) July 27, 2022
If Bosse sounded like a Republican, El Segundo Mayor Drew Boyles — who presides over a city whose citizens voted 71% Democrat in the last presidential race — sounded positively conservative as he encouraged residents to exercise personal choice and do their own research.
“My City Council colleagues and I strongly believe the decision to wear a mask should be the choice of the individual and should not be imposed by L.A. County,” Boyles said in a statement. “Individuals should review the data available and consider their own circumstances and make their own decisions about wearing a mask. Businesses need to consider the various agencies that regulate their businesses as part of deciding how they will react to a potential change to mask requirements.”
During a special-called meeting, El Segundo’s City Council voted unanimously to not enforce a new mask mandate.
The Long Beach Health and Human Services Department said the strain caused by COVID on its hospital system was sufficiently low as to not warrant more restrictions. The office also urged personal accountability among residents.
“Despite rising cases, hospitalizations among Long Beach residents remain stable, area hospitals have adequate capacity and fatalities remain low,” a statement from the city reads. “Therefore, regarding masking, the City of Long Beach will continue to align with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which strongly urges, but does not require, masking in most circumstances.”
The statement continued, “The Health Department strongly encourages people to practice personal responsibility and common-sense measures to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the greater community from COVID-19. People are advised to mask indoors when in public places, conduct rapid testing before and three to five days after social gatherings, and choose outdoor activities where possible.”
As hinted at in the Long Beach statement, there remains a general mask requirement in many places across Los Angeles County. People are still required to wear masks in medical facilities as well as homeless shelters, nursing homes, and other places where transmission poses the greatest risk.