Locals see inconsistency between mask mandates in California, Los Angeles

This week California eliminated its indoor mask mandate for those who are fully vaccinated, but some counties are keeping their policies intact (Jievani Weerasinghe/Unsplash)

By Kyle Kelly
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES — The latest California COVID-19 update has locals looking for consistency and accountability.

On Wednesday, the state ended its indoor facial covering requirement for fully vaccinated individuals. Specifically, those who have two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one of Johnson & Johnson are permitted without a mask inside all indoor public settings such as shops, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers and government offices.   

Although the state of California is taking the next step in a return to normalcy, Los Angeles will still be a step behind. The Golden State is allowing its counties to enforce its own protocols, which would take precedence over any state requirements. Los Angeles County has elected to keep its indoor mask mandate in effect for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. 

While locals have expressed enthusiasm over the latest update, the lack of uniformity across the board has been a cause for concern.

“I could care less if you want to wear it or not,” said Monique Palma, 37, a California resident. “It’s just one of those things that’s getting annoying that the state is lifting it but not LA or the city of LA. It’s kind of like, be consistent across the board. That’s my issue with it.”

Palma’s partner, Adam Aranda, 30, identified that the lack of consistency could be one of the reasons why the pandemic still has such prevalence. 

“Let’s just get on a consistent board,” Aranda said. “And if you get on a consistent board, we’re going to create a little bit more streamlined to what we’re going to do. That creates every positivity, people working together. If we all work together, you know what, right, left, we’re all a part of it.”

Aranda and Palma agreed that wearing a mask should be a personal choice and not one governed at the state or local level. However, they also said people need to take accountability for their actions and that includes understanding the seriousness of the coronavirus. It all goes back to people working against each other instead of together. 

“I hate this collective where everybody is pointing fingers at each other now,” Palma said. “People saying that, ‘You don’t care about me if you’re not wearing a mask.’ It’s like, but you’re wearing one. You care about yourself, and that’s OK. Me not wearing one does not mean that I don’t care, it just means that it’s my preference or that I am comfortable.”

Brandon Kraye, 32, who is from nearby Orange County, echoed a similar sentiment. 

“I just want to get it back to normal as soon as possible,” Kraye said. “That’s my take on this whole thing. I understand that everyone has their own opinion on things. I am a believer that if you want to get vaxxed, get vaxxed. If you don’t, then don’t. We’re all here to take care of ourselves. That’s the way I look at it.” 

Unlike Los Angeles, Orange County — which is located 40 miles southeast of LA — is following the state’s lead and allowing those who are fully vaccinated to spend time indoors without a mask. Meanwhile, LA will keep the strictest mask mandates in the state. But it has given a glimmer of hope. 

On Friday, LA County “forecasted an ease” of its indoor mask mandate by late March, according to the Los Angeles Times. Since Feb. 2, LA has seen a decline in deaths, hospitalizations and positive cases. As of Feb. 16, at 6 p.m., the county reported 3,312 positive cases, which is down from about 59,000 cases reported on Jan. 4.

Kyle Kelly is a Sports Media graduate student at Medill. You can follow him on Twitter at @ByKyleKelly