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Moviegoers wear masks at the AMC movie theater at the Westfield Century City shopping mall in Los Angeles, California on March 15, 2021. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Image

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Friday that his department would not enforce an L.A. County mask order, saying it is "not backed by science."

Driving the news: Villanueva's statement comes one day after L.A. county officials announced a new mask mandate for residents in indoor public locations regardless of vaccine status, effective Saturday at 11:59 p.m.

What he's saying: "Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines," Villanueva said in a statement.

  • "The underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance," he added.

The big picture: The mask order comes amid rising coronavirus cases in the county.

  • For the seven-day period that ended Wednesday, the county’s average was 1,077 new cases a day. On Thursday, the county reported 1,537 additional cases, per the Los Angeles Times.
  • Individuals who are unvaccinated make up the vast majority of new hospitalizations, cases and deaths.
  • Between Dec. 7 and June 7, the unvaccinated accounted for 99.6% of the county’s coronavirus cases, 98.7% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 99.8% of deaths, per the Times.
  • Among the Los Angeles county population, 69% of those eligible have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 61% are fully vaccinated, per county data.
  • The California Department of Public Health and the CDC maintain that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors, per the Times.

Zoom out: Bay Area health officials are also urging all residents to wear masks indoors as cases of the highly contagious delta variant are rising, per CBS News.

  • Officials in Las Vegas, Nevada, are advising everyone — vaccinated or not — to wear face coverings in crowds and indoor places amid rising coronavirus cases, AP reports.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay — Moderna suggests booster shots, citing clinical data.
  2. Health: 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising — Study: Gaps in data on Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders alarming amid COVID.
  3. Politics: Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers — Axios-Ipsos poll: 60% of voters back Biden vaccine mandates.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 15, 2021 - News

Where Des Moines metro schools stand on masks after Iowa ban blocked

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Des Moines metro schools are relying on guidance from their boards for how they should move forward after Iowa's law banning mask mandates in schools was blocked by a federal judge.

Driving the news: The judge's temporary restraining order issued Monday means schools can decide for themselves once again if they want to require students and staff to wear masks.

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds condemned the decision, saying it ignores parental choice.
23 hours ago - Health

1 in 500 Americans has died of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC and U.S. Census Bureau; Table: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The U.S. has reached a grim pandemic milestone: More than 1 in 500 Americans has died of COVID-19, according to the latest available data.

Why it matters: The rising death toll highlights the continued effects of the Delta variant and the ongoing struggle to get Americans vaccinated.

By the numbers: The total number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in the United States is 665,496 as of 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, according to reporting by Johns Hopkins University.

  • 30.1% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. involved individuals ages 85 and older as of Wednesday, despite only making up 2% of cases and an equal portion of the population.