Council Faces Blowback for Mask Mandate
Since Manhattan Beach’s mask-wearing mandate was revealed last week, residents have voiced concerns on social media and took to Tuesday’s city council meeting to emphasize opposition to the mandate.
Last week, a majority vote of the City Council approved a $100 fine for not wearing a mask in areas too dense for social distancing. Fines for repeat offenses range from $200 to $350.
Resident Isabella Kim objected to language on the city website that states, “All persons shall wear a cloth face covering […] whenever they leave their residence.”
“I think it’s completely overreaching in the final wording. This goes way beyond what even Governor Newsom has said,” Kim said.
Resident Todd Serota expressed concern about the Council’s promise that “common sense” would be used when citing maskless pedestrians. “Common sense differs among people,” Serota said, before describing enforcement as “ridiculous.”
Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) CEO Tom Bakaly and BCHD policy analyst Jacqueline Sun presented a brief overview of the pandemic’s position in the Beach Cities.
“A couple weeks ago, we said the silver lining was that the deaths weren’t increasing. I don’t think we can say that anymore,” Sun said.
On June 19, the Beach Cities reported 309 new cases of COVID-19; on July 19, the number reported was 704 new cases. The cumulative number of cases reported in the beach cities since the pandemic struck in early March is over 2,000.
“We’ve seen a dramatic spike in cases in the past few weeks,” Sun said. “If the positivity rate is increasing, it’s something we need to keep our eye on.”
Los Angeles County requires a person to be exhibiting at least one symptom to qualify for testing. Sun said essential workers and those who have been exposed to the virus should receive immediate testing. She also stressed the importance of self-isolation if a person has been exposed.
“We’re encountering a lot of people who are awaiting their test results but are still out grocery shopping,” she said. “You must self-isolate until you get your results back.”
Bakaly agreed that self-isolation, responsible use of masks, and social distancing is crucial in battling the pandemic.
“Our behavior can affect the outcome of the emergency,” said Bakaly. “Never have I seen an emergency that can be affected so directly by the way we behave.”
Councilwoman Suzanne Hadley questioned Sun and Bakaly about the importance of age and contact tracing.
Sun said age data was not available, but said there has been a significant rise in cases among younger people.
“The older 65 [years] and up cases are continuing to decrease,” said Sun. “The deaths have leveled off.”
“The South Bay is still about the safest place to be in LA county,” said Hadley. “COVID is out there — it’s a concern. I’m very concerned. But the South Bay… I’d rather be here than in any other area.”
“We have to give good news where there is good news,” Hadley said. “The good news is children aren’t dying from this in the state of California, and they certainly aren’t dying in Manhattan Beach.” ER
Originally published on easyreadernews.com