Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Mask Mandate Returns in Los Angeles County

July 16, 2021, 12:43 PM · The mask mandate is back in Los Angeles County, starting at midnight Sunday morning. Citing a seven-fold increase in community transmission of Covid-19 in the county since California reopened June 15, local officials will mandate that everyone wear a mask while indoors and outside their home - regardless whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

Non-vaccinated people were supposed to continue wearing masks while inside after June 15, but - as widely predicted - most of the people who would not take the advice to get vaccinated also would not take the advice to wear a mask or take other precautions to protect themselves from Covid. As a result, infection rates are surging in Los Angeles County and across the state and nation - and almost exclusively among non-vaccinated people.

Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain are located in Los Angeles County, so they would be subject to the new rule. Universal's policy has been to encourage all people to mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status, but Magic Mountain has been telling vaccinated people that they can skip the mask. I have reached out to representatives from both parks for comment on the changes.

Update: A Universal Studios Hollywood spokesperson replied: "We continue to follow the guidance of health and government officials to ensure the health and safety of our guests and team members and starting Sunday we will require that face coverings be worn within all indoor venues, regardless of vaccination status."

And Six Flags Magic Mountain: "In compliance with Los Angeles County guidance, masks will be required at all indoor locations at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor, regardless of vaccination status. It is still highly recommended that unvaccinated guests always wear a mask while in the park."

Note that the LA County decision will not affect Disneyland, which is located in Orange County. Cases are increasing there, too, but Orange County's seven-day average of 3.9 new cases per 100,000 residents is less than LA County's rate of 6.5. Orange County's test positivity rate of 3.9% is higher than LA's rate of 3.6%, however. At this point, there is no change to require masks for vaccinated people in Orange County.

For context, California's current infection rate of about nine people per 100,000 population is in line with the national average, which has increased 87% in the past week, according to the Washington Post. But in the nation's other theme park capital - Florida - the infection rate is more than three times that, making it the third-most infectious state in the nation at this point. The rate of new infections in Florida also is rising faster than the national average.

It might be tempting for some vaccinated people to dismiss rising cases among non-vaccinated Americans. Every person 12 and older in the country has had ample opportunity to get vaccinated for free, after all. But natural selection applies to the virus as well as to the human population. The more that Covid continues to circulate, the more opportunity that creates for the virus to mutate into new variants that might break through current vaccine's protection.

(That new Loki series and its focus on variants hits different in light of that, doesn't it?)

Anyway, to preach to the choir, the pandemic is far from over. Risk remains. The arguments against getting vaccinated are garbage, spread by people who just want to watch the world burn. Please employ whatever Jedi mind tricks you might know to convince your unvaccinated family and friends to do the right thing and get protected. Then please share those tricks with the rest of us, so that we might do the same.

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Replies (12)

July 16, 2021 at 12:51 PM

It's also worth noting that while we hear, "unvaccinated" and think "those who choose to not get the vaccine," there *are* people with underlying medical conditions who literally can't get the vaccine and as such are at great risk when community spread is high. So, wearing a mask in areas where the virus is more likely to spread is good practice and talking to those in your circle about getting the vaccine is a good idea.

Stay safe, everyone!

July 16, 2021 at 1:32 PM

Absolutely Jacob. While the anti-vaxers and pandemic-deniers make the most noise and garner the most attention for defiantly refusing to be vaccinated, there is a significant percentage of the population where getting one of the vaccines is not an option or not recommended for legitimate medical reasons (including children under 12).

This is precisely why I think it's dicey to establish any sort of vaccine passport or other systems that give privileges to those who have been vaccinated. While those of us who did what was asked, and have been compliant with guidance and recommendations throughout the pandemic would probably love to throw the MAGA and conspiracy theory nutjobs overboard, there are plenty of people that would get ostracized from society for no fault of their own if we set up any sort of vaccine caste system (not to mention those that want to further separate those that got the 1-dose J&J vaccine, which has proven to be significantly less effective). Also, the mistakes made by the CDC when initially distributing the vaccines make it nearly impossible to create a clear and counterfeit-proof passport/ID system, which has created a black market in vaccine cards for individuals in situations that need to prove vaccination status for one reason or another.

It's still important to note that the conditions within the US are still far better than they are in most countries around the world where vaccine distribution has been slow and rejection of the vaccine has been even more defiant than in the deepest "red" portions of America. I'm not sure what it's going to take to change the hearts and distorted minds of these skeptics, but I don't think dividing the world community into "vaccinated" versus "unvaccinated" will ever serve the greater good. However, I do know that it's not going to help persuade those contemplating the vaccine when officials are re-imposing masking and social distancing mandates even for those who are fully vaccinated.

July 16, 2021 at 1:51 PM

@russell Meyer

Vaccine passports are a thing in many aspects of the US. All public CA schools and most colleges in the US require this upon enrollment.

July 16, 2021 at 2:49 PM

That is true AgustinMacias, but those vaccination records are maintained by licensed doctors and health professionals. Most Americans are receiving their COVID vaccine from mass clinics and pharmacies/grocery stores with recordkeeping performed by local health departments and/or each individual (through easily copied/replicated index cards). Traditional vaccination records are signed by doctors, who bear the responsibility and ethical liability to maintain and secure them, while most are lucky if their COVID card is signed by an RN and records stored in a public health database of questionable security.

Also, the lack of a vaccination record cannot be used to deny admission or affect a student's academic status in most states, and institutions must make accommodations to those who either choose against or are unable to receive certain vaccinations. Trying to force a COVID vaccine passport or other system for everyday life wouldn't stand a chance in a court of law, and if instituted would be ripe with forgers. Sadly, I think we're stuck with the honor system, and unfortunately it's eminently clear that many of our fellow Americans lack "honor".

July 16, 2021 at 3:27 PM

It's unfortunate to see government officials moving this county backwards.

July 16, 2021 at 5:12 PM

This is unfortunately one of those situations where there is no good answer. However, I'm not sure restoring a blanket mask mandate is really the best answer, especially if a vast majority of those who are being infected are unvaccinated and were supposed to be wearing masks the whole time. The problem with doing so is that it feels punitive to those who were following the rules the whole time due to the actions of a minority and it strongly discourages those who were on the fence to get vaccinated as it removes one of the bigger incentives of doing so. In my opinion, a better answer would have been to require stricter enforcement of the established rules by removing the self attest option and requiring that a business verifies documentation if they choose not to require masks indoors. I am all for a policy of "mask or vaccine," but I cannot get behind any form of a "mask and vaccine" policy with the data we have available now.

July 16, 2021 at 10:16 PM

Also worth noting: The 7-day average for number of deaths continues to decline despite a 3 1/2 week long increase in the 7-day average number of infections. This goes against the trend since the start of the pandemic that death increases and decreases lag two weeks behind infection increases and decreases.

July 17, 2021 at 2:23 AM

Now that almost everyone who wanted to get vaccinated has got vaccinated, there is no point in any any further restrictions. We have protected almost all the people we can with the vaccines. There is nothing we can do to protect the unvaccinated in the long term. We just have to accept that most people who refuse to get the shot will get infected. All a temporary mask mandate will do is delay the inevitable.

July 17, 2021 at 7:48 AM

I found it amusing to read the California vs. Florida article immediately after reading this one. This kind of ill-informed decision is a (small but still significant) part of the reason I picked Florida

July 17, 2021 at 7:04 PM

@TheStormRunner: Trying to keep the public safe in a deadly pandemic is "ill informed?"

July 17, 2021 at 9:24 PM

@MIkeW when the majority are fully vaccinated, yes. Have you not seen the statistics about how low cases and deaths are among vaccinated versus unvaccinated people? I’d understand it if the rule only applied to unvaccinated people, but in SoCal summer heat this kind of blanket rule seems unnecessary, especially at such an outdoor park

July 19, 2021 at 11:24 AM

Thank goodness I live in a state like California that puts the health of its citizens over idiotic political nonsense. Children under 12 can't get vaccinated, so all the ridiculous "freedom warriors" insisting on their right to get infected are also risking innocent kids' lives.

If you can get vaccinated and refuse, you're a self-interested fool, full stop.

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