Lifting mask mandate in LA County was premature, says aerosol scientist

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“We’re far from ending the pandemic as a whole. … It’s really just premature, in my opinion, to lift up some of those mask mandates when the whole society finally got used to it,” says Yifang Zhu, aerosol scientist and professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Photo by Shutterstock.

LA County's riders on buses, trains, taxis, and ride-sharing services are still required to wear a mask. But in grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and movie theaters, there are no requirements, which means some people are choosing to mask up in those places, while others are not. 

KCRW asked some LA residents about when they are wearing masks and when they aren’t.

John Ortiz says he prefers not to wear them at all. “For the most part, I like that they’re coming off. Most of the time, I only wear it to make other people feel comfortable. But I feel like I take really good care of my immune system and my body, so I’m not really too afraid of that.”

Min Kim feels like it is still important to wear a mask. “I think it’s still safer to wear your mask because the pandemic isn’t completely over. [And] I think the mask does protect you in many ways.” 

Brianna, who didn’t want to share their last name, said, “I guess I would wear a mask if I feel like I’m really close to people or I wanna make other people feel comfortable, but for me, I like to not wear it.” 

Christopher Ortega says he wears a mask when riding the train. “I have to wear a mask for the 9 hours I’m at work, so if there’s an opportunity to not wear one, I won’t wear a mask. But if I’m on a train or the bus where people don’t have the option to walk away, I keep a mask on just out of respect for everybody.” 

Paulina, who didn’t want to share their last name, says, “It is more important on the train, on buses, in supermarkets where there are more people. For me, it’s better to keep using them.”

If many folks around you are not wearing a mask, are you still at risk? Is it riskier on the bus than in the grocery store? What about flights? And what if you’re immunocompromised? 



  • Yifang Zhu - aerosol scientist and professor of environmental health studies at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
  • Katrina Kaiser - transit rider and Steering Committee member of Streets For All