County officials mandate masks inside private homes, threaten fines and imprisonment for violations

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SANTA CRUZ, CA – Santa Cruz County has reinstated a mask mandate requiring everyone to wear face coverings when indoors regardless of vaccination status, including in private homes.

The county said the mandate is being ordered after a surge of winter COVID-19 cases recently has led to an increase in hospitalizations.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the county reported a seven-day average of 72 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, placing it in the “substantial” transmission category.

The CDC, however, did not make a recommendation to have people wear masks inside private residences. The agency advised:

“Everyone in Santa Cruz County, California should wear a mask in public, indoor settings. Mask requirements might vary from place to place. Make sure you follow local laws, rules, regulations or guidance.”

Despite neighboring Monterey County lifting its mask mandate a few days earlier and California overall showing an approximate 14% decrease in coronavirus hospitalizations in the last month, Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said in a statement last week that a potential winter surge appears to be a significant threat:

“Unfortunately, a potential winter surge appears to be a significant threat to the health and safety of our community.”

The health officer order requires masks to be worn in private settings, including homes, when people who are not from the household are present.  The previous mask order was rescinded in late September.

And while state projections show the downward trend is expected to continue, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) expressed concerns over a surge in the winter. While visiting a coronavirus vaccination clinic in San Francisco, the Governor said:

“Ask the governor of Michigan (or) Colorado how they are doing. States are struggling because people are taking down their guard or claiming, ‘mission accomplished.’ … I don’t want to see that happen here in California.”

Last winter, California was hit hard by a virus surge. Los Angeles suffered the country’s epicenter for the outbreak, resulting in the California National Guard being deployed with refrigerated trucks to store bodies when hospitals and morgues became overwhelmed.

But that outbreak occurred mostly before the COVID-19 vaccines were developed and widely distributed.

The mandate, which also requires businesses and government agencies, comes just as the Thanksgiving holiday brings people to gather in their homes to celebrate. Newel said there is increased concern as people begin to gather for the holidays:

“If you are gathering with extended family and friends, especially those who have traveled from outside the area or who are unvaccinated, caution is best.

“We want to try to get used to the idea of living with this virus and getting back to some sort of normalcy in activities, including being able to gather with people that we love and not have to withhold ourselves from our kids, our grandkids or our grandparents.”

The American Constitution Society was previously asked about the constitutionality of mask mandates.

In a 2020 article published on the organization’s website, Polly J. Price, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law, and Patrick C. Diaz, J.D. candidate, Emory University School of Law, explained that although not settled in federal courts, the use of such methods in public settings has historically been permitted during public health emergencies:

“More than a century has passed since face mask ordinances proliferated in U.S. towns and cities during the 1918-1919 pandemic flu. Face mask ordinances, where they existed, could be enforced with citations and fines, with municipal judges holding what journalists referred to as ‘influenza court’ in which a citizen could contest the citation and hope to avoid paying a fine.

“Few reported court decisions (and none from federal courts) emerged from that era. But as a general rule, judges deferred to state and local elected officials on face-mask ordinances, as well as the decision to close businesses and schools and prevent public gatherings.”

In the Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts involving a smallpox outbreak, local authorities mandate vaccinations with a fine if the person refuses. The court ruled:

“Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

Although constitutional doctrine has changed significantly over the last decade since the ruling, including increased focus and protections on individual rights and protection under the First Amendment, Jacobson remains a controlling precedent in health emergencies.

With that said, there is no clear legal ruling regarding the constitutionality of authorities reaching into the private homes of citizens to mandate masks. There is precedent that may guide the courts, including the clear authorization for quarantine orders, which gives the government authority to prevent a citizen or citizens from being able to leave their homes.

The mandate in Santa Cruz has been ordered to remain in effect indefinitely. The state said the situation would be continually monitored and decisions based on developments and hospitalization numbers.

The county has not commented on how authorities plan to enforce the mandate in citizens’ private homes. 

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

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LA County Sheriff says city’s new mask mandate ‘not backed by science,’ refuses to enforce it

July 17, 2021

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA – As Los Angeles County gets ready to reinstate mask requirements for all persons, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is having none of it.

On Thursday, July 15, local health officials announced that, effective Saturday July 17th at 11:50 pm, indoor masking would be required for every person, regardless of immunization status.

Sheriff Villanueva, however, has criticized the new requirements, stating:

“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.”

Indeed, the CDC states on their website:

If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.”

The CDC continues:

“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

In other words, the CDC’s own “science” permits activities with no mask restrictions (or distancing) in the vaccinated population.

Villanueva also indicated that the defunded status of L.A. County law enforcement was also a reason that mask guidelines would not be enforced.

He stated:

“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance.”

The Sheriff concluded his statement by again referring to the lack of applied science in the mandate, saying:

“We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”

According to County of Los Angeles Public Health,  masking will be required indoors, regardless of vaccination status, due to a “more than a seven-times increase in new cases since the June 15 reopening.”

LA County also compared figures of 210 cases of COVID-19 on June 15 with 1,537 new cases on July 15.  It also cited the test positivity rate as 0.5% on June 15, versus a positivity rate of 3.7% on July 15.

The county also added that the new mask requirement is due to “the increasing presence of the more easily transmitted Delta variant of the virus.”

The county statement continued in its explanation on the mask order:

“And while emerging data affirms that fully vaccinated people are well protected from severe infections with Delta variants, people with only one vaccine are not as well-protected, and there is evidence that a very small number of fully vaccinated individuals can become infected and may be able to infect others.”

Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis declared in a virtual press conference:

“Wearing a mask when indoors with others reduces both of getting and transmitting the virus .”

He continued:

“Masking indoors must again become a normal practice by all, regardless of vaccination status, so that we can stop the trends and level of transmission we are currently seeing.”

According to KTLA5, local health officials have stated that this new indoor mask mandate will continue “until the numbers of hospitalizations and cases improve.”

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has indicated disagreement with making masks mandatory

She told WABC-TV:

“I don’t think it should be mandatory.” 

Barger went on to say:

“I think it should be recommended. 

“Every other county in the state to my knowledge, we are the only county that’s doing it mandatory.”

Responses to the mask mandate from local citizens has been varied.

ABC 7 Eyewitness News interviewed one local resident, Francisco Felix, who appeared to be fully in favor of the mandate.

He said:

“My reaction is simple:  Just wear it, be safe about it.  

“I mean, protect others as you go along…. 

“I mean, I’d rather just wear it than just not to.”

Local resident Kyla Speakman, on the other hand, told the station she was “a little upset” about the mandate.

She said:

“I’m a little upset, but, I mean, I get it.  I get why people wear masks in hospitals and everything like that.

“But I mean just to be, I mean, going to the gym, it’s not like we’re all on top of each other.”

ABC7 also found those who apparently saw the masking as a “punish[ment]” and were “resentful” of the unvaccinated.

Justin Sevakis of Glendale told the news channel:

”It feels like the the burden of the unvaccinated is being placed on the vaccinated.”

He continued:

“It’s like there are people that don’t have common sense and so therefore all of us have to pay for it – and it sucks. 

“It feels like, you know, the teacher is punishing the whole class.”

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