LA County COVID-19 mask mandate under scrutiny after Newsom, Garcetti pictured maskless at Rams game

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Tuesday, February 1, 2022
LA County mask mandate under scrutiny after Rams-49ers game at SoFi
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There are growing calls to ease Los Angeles County's COVID-19 mask mandate, after Gov. Newsom and LA Mayor Garcetti were photographed maskless at Sunday's Rams game.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As omicron case numbers and hospitalizations continue to fall, there are growing calls to ease Los Angeles County's COVID-19 mask mandate.

At Sunday's Rams NFC championship win, both Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti were photographed unmasked, in a stadium full of 70,000 people.

"It was an 'Are you kidding me?' moment," said California State Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore.

Melendez was among the many who noticed the seeming hypocrisy on full display on Magic Johnson's Instagram page, and were unhappy about it.

"If it's safe enough for Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti to be in a crowd of 80,000 people without a mask on, then surely it's safe for the rest of us," said Melendez.

Both politicians said they had only taken their masks off briefly to take the photographs.

RELATED: Newsom, Garcetti criticized after being spotted not wearing face masks at LA Rams, 49ers game

"Magic was kind enough, generous enough, to ask me for a photograph, and in my left hand is the mask, and I took a photo," said Newsom. "The rest of the time I wore it."

But there's another big game set at SoFi Stadium in two weeks that will surely draw more politicians and photo requests.

"The idea of having a Super Bowl here during a state of emergency when kids have to wear masks outside to play with each other at school. It's totally insane," said Ross Novie, founder of the group L.A. Uprising. "So either it's a state of emergency or it's not."

The group is calling on local leaders to pull back on COVID-19 restrictions, and is focusing on one leader in particular.

"We believe at this point Dr. Ferrer should be fired, she should step down," added Novie. "The board of supervisors should go in a new direction."

Novie says he knows Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of L.A. County Public Health Department, and other health officials impose restrictions in a well-intentioned effort to keep people safe, but doesn't feel the science backs them up. In fact, he feels they have done psychological damage to the public.

"It's a constant stressful nonstop state of affairs and it doesn't have to be this way," Novie explained. "As a city, again we've vaxxed, we've boosted, we've locked down, we have shut down businesses. We've done all of these things and there's never been any release."

"I know it's an evolving situation but we want to return to normal. We need to return to normal. There's damage being done as we don't. It's a constant stressful nonstop state of affairs and it doesn't have to be this way."

L.A. Uprising planned a rally at SoFi Stadium for Tuesday calling for Ferrer to be fired, and to lift all COVID-19 restrictions.