Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis defended Sunday the decision to bring back the masks to counter a spike in coronavirus cases driven by the delta variant, calling it prevention, not punishment.
The health order requiring even vaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors kicked in at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance updated May 13 says that fully vaccinated people need not wear masks.
“I would say that it’s not punishment, it’s prevention,” Ms. Solis said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We still have 4 million people out of 10 million that hasn’t been vaccinated, and many of them are young people, and we’re seeing that this transmission is so highly contagious that it will cost more in the long run if we have to see our hospitals being impacted.”
California lifted most of its COVID-19 pandemic restrictions amid much fanfare on June 15, but Los Angeles County has experienced a surge in cases and hospitalizations in the last week.
The county Department of Public Health reported 1,902 new confirmed cases as of Friday and six deaths, with hospitalizations doubling from 216 to 452 in the last month. Ms. Solis pointed out that last month, “when all this was declared that all this was opening up, the numbers weren’t that high.”
According to the Los Angeles Times vaccine tracker, the uptick comes with 52.6% of Los Angeles County residents fully vaccinated, about the same as the statewide rate of 52.2%.
“This is very disturbing, and of course, as responsible elected officials, we have to do something,” said Ms. Solis. “In this case, the county can do that through our health order.”
She added that “I’m not pleased that we have to go back to using the masks in this manner, but nonetheless, it’s going to save lives, and right now, that to me is what’s most important.