Los Angeles considers banning masks at protests amid COVID surge

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) – Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced that city officials are considering new rules for demonstrations, including protesters wearing masks.

The announcement follows a violent pro-Palestinian protest at a Los Angeles synagogue on Sunday, where several protesters had their faces covered.

Are masks recommended or required?

Bass did not provide specific details but stated that the city needed to examine “the idea of people wearing masks at protests” and permits for demonstrations, the Los Angeles Times reported.

At Tuesday’s Los Angeles City Council meeting, Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky introduced a motion to identify additional resources for security services for places of worship as the city waits for $40 million in promised state funding for nonprofit security grants, the outlet reported. Yaroslavsky did not comment on the motion, which will be discussed at a later meeting.

A pro-Palestinian protester from Sunday’s protester told The Guardian that they and friends wore N95 masks, while some unmasked pro-Israeli counter-protesters claimed, “COVID is not happening or not real anymore.”

Additionally, the protester, who requested anonymity for safety concerns, said Bass’s potential mask ban at protests was “a very concerning thing, just in terms of accessibility for protests.”

“All of the folks that I organize with, we make it a point for everyone to wear masks to protect any vulnerable community members, so they also feel safe and comfortable coming out to these actions.”

How severe is the COVID surge in Los Angeles?

Bass’s mask ban consideration follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, tracking COVID levels in wastewater, which shows that California’s levels are significantly higher than the national average. The Los Angeles Times reported that viral levels in California wastewater crossed the “high activity” threshold in June.

As of last Thursday, the Los Angeles County Public Health reported a daily average of 154 COVID-19 cases, 0.6 deaths, and 138 hospitalizations. The data is updated weekly on Thursdays.

At least 406 people have died from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County so far this year.

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