Surgeon General Empowers New Mask Mandates

Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, has recently empowered new mask mandates by taking the side of Los Angeles County, California. Recently, the county decided to reinstate mandatory masks for California residents, claiming that such measures are “reasonable” due to recent increases in COVID-19 delta variant cases. These measures apply to all residents, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.

In recent weeks, the delta variant of COVID-19 has emerged as the most prevalent strain of COVID-10 across the United. Between June 20 and July 3, approximately 57 percent of all new COVID-19 cases being attributed to the delta variant. In addition, the areas that have lower vaccination rates tend to have the highest level of infection rates, with Murthy remarking that millions of Americans remain “not vaccinated.”

Murthy proceeded to empower officials in Los Angeles County by proclaiming that it is “very reasonable” for more “mitigation measures,” such as mask mandates, to be implemented in areas “where cases are rising” or where “there are low numbers of vaccinated people.”

Murthy also insisted that his commentary is “not contradictory” to the various guidelines that have been issued by the CDC.

The indoor mask mandates in Los Angeles County went into effect over the weekend, though they have already been subject to massive controversy. Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County Sheriff, noted that the police department would not waste its very “limited resources” on enforcing mask mandates, adding that he would merely request “voluntary compliance” from residents.

Sheriff Villanueva also pointed out that the reinstatement of mask mandates does in fact contradict the guidelines provided by the CDC. However, Murthy argued against Villanueva, claiming that Los Angeles County’s newest order is well within the bounds of the CDC’s healthcare guidance.

Murthy also argued that any county is well within its “right to put mitigation measures back in place,” while adding that the CDC is prepared to send various teams to address the surge in COVID-19 delta variant cases across different regions continuously embattled by the virus.

It was only in June 15 that California fully reopened itself and eliminated all the previous measures taken during the pandemic. On that day, the state reported just over 1,000 new COVID cases. As of Friday, California reported that only 4,651 new cases had emerged across the state, based upon data from its COVID tracker. Per various officials, these cases represent a potentially new surge of the COVID delta variant.

According to Murthy, “we saw this last year during the pandemic,” in regards to larger groups of individuals commingling across indoor spaces, adding that these gatherings constitute “the right setup for COVID-19 to spread.”

At this point in time, approximately 68 percent of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, per data from the most recent CDC report.

In addition, approximately 12,960 new COVID cases were reported across the nation as of Sunday, based upon data released by John Hopkins University. Currently, the highest concentration of outbreaks in new COVID cases appears to be taking place in Southern California and Florida.