LA County supervisor defends reimposing mask mandate: 'It's not punishment, it's prevention'

 LA County supervisor defends reimposing mask mandate: 'It's not punishment, it's prevention'
© Getty Images

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in an interview on Sunday that a reimposed mask mandate in indoor public spaces is “not punishment,” but “prevention.”

“We still have 4 million people out of 10 million that haven't been vaccinated. And many of them are young people," Solis, a former House lawmaker from California and Labor secretary in the Obama administration, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

"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, our ICU units, as well as our health care workers.”

The mask mandate that went into effect in the county on Saturday night requires all people, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not, to wear masks in public indoor settings.

The decision comes amid growing concerns about the delta variant of COVID-19, which has led to cases rising in every state in the country. 

At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not changed its policies to require those who are vaccinated to wear masks in public settings indoors, and the Los Angeles decision has been met with some controversy.

CDC officials this week spoke of a pandemic of the unvaccinated and urged people again to get vaccinated.

Solis said the Los Angeles rules was intended in part to protect children who are not eligible to be vaccinated.

“I just want to caution people that we still have many youngsters under the age of 12 who are not eligible to get vaccinated. So we, as responsible adults, should be taking a proactive approach and making sure that we mask up and that we also get vaccinated as soon as possible,” she added.

Solis also called recent infections and hospitalizations “disturbing.”  

“I’m not pleased that we have to go back to using the masks in this matter but, nonetheless, it’s going to save lives. And right now that to me is what’s most important.”

When host Martha Radditz asked Solis about the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department saying they won’t enforce a mask mandate, Solis said that she does not understand why LASD would  weigh in on the matter.

Our public health department is typically the individuals that go out and do inspections. So I don't see where the sheriff really has to come in and weigh in on the matter that he might have thought,” Solis said.

“And besides, he's just saying that he's — he's going to allow people to do what they need to do. I'm not concerned about that. I think the public overall is smart enough to understand what is being said and how to protect themselves.”