When will Los Angeles County align with the state of California and drop the requirement for 10-day masking after a “close contact” with someone who has had a positive test for COVID?
When Barbara Ferrer feels like it.
That was essentially the answer to questions asked by Fox 11 reporter Marla Tellez at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s weekly news conference last week.
Ferrer, who is not a medical doctor but is paid more than $600,000 per year by county taxpayers to run the Department of Public Health, tried to say the recommendations are really the same everywhere. “Everyone is asked to go ahead and wear that mask if you’ve been exposed for ten days after that exposure,” Ferrer said.
The difference is, she’s not asking. Noncompliance in L.A. County can result in fines or shutdowns.
“I think where folks are finding a problem is that we actually use the health officer authority to require that people take those steps,” Ferrer eventually acknowledged. And then she made the leap to something else.
“I think that’s always the issue for public health, um, and I think for all of us as a society,” Ferrer said. “We don’t let people choose whether or not they want to wear seat belts. We don’t let people choose whether or not they’re going to smoke tobacco products in spaces where other people are because we’ve decided that the risk of those activities for our collective good, um, is worth asking people to engage in protective behaviors collectively. I think we’ve made the same decision. I mean, I presented a couple of weeks ago the mortality data on COVID, this is still not sort of a very innocuous disease. There are still steps we should all take to protect each other.”
However, Ferrer’s data does not distinguish between deaths from COVID and deaths with COVID. Although her daily press releases report dozens of deaths per week “due to” COVID, this is intentionally misleading. “Due to” sounds like it means “caused by.” In this case, it doesn’t.
Regarding seat belt mandates and smoking restrictions, those are laws, passed by elected officials who are accountable to the voters, not orders imposed by one bureaucrat under a state declaration of emergency. The difference is important. In a free country, government powers are limited and divided between a legislative and executive branch, and laws must be consistent with the state and federal constitutions, which protect individual rights from arbitrary infringement by one official or even a bunch of them.
But the 10-day mask mandate after exposure is temporary, right? When does it end? Marla Tellez asked that question.
“I think in terms of when we might feel more comfortable, um, not asking people to take measures to really protect others when they’ve been exposed is when we feel like we really are in a place where mortality rates are super low from COVID and that morbidity is not as big a problem, either,” Ferrer said.
More than two dozen school district superintendents have called on Ferrer to align with the state and remove the requirement for 10-day masking after a close contact. L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger also has called for the county to align with the state.
Election officials are the gatekeepers of our democracy: Natalie Adona and Neal Kelley
If we own our own bodies, why should sex work be illegal?
Endorsement: Robert Luna for Los Angeles County Sheriff
Tax-the-rich dynamics are different this time
Learning loss continues to manifest
Ferrer asserted that “as public health practitioners we really try to align with the science,” but she gave the game away by stating twice that she is listening to “our labor union partners,” who have derived enhanced negotiating leverage from the population’s fear over COVID. And Ferrer admitted that enforcing mask usage is something she’s able to do because “it’s just a mask,” whereas “if it was a very disruptive measure that we were trying to introduce” then it would be “a lot harder to ask people to do something.”
She’s not asking and it’s not “just a mask.” It’s a burden on school districts to do endless record-keeping, notifications and enforcement. It’s a burden on children to wear a useless paper or cloth mask all day in school and a distraction to be lectured endlessly about it.
And it’s a dangerous usurpation of power by one bureaucrat in violation of the constitutional structure that is both designed and essential to protect freedom in the United States. Even in L.A. County.