Here’s what needs to happen for LA County to lift its mask mandate

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Tuesday released criteria for repealing COVID-19 masking requirements at events and indoor establishments.

The day to put your face down forever is a long way off, with strict measurements to be met first, including a significant drop in coronavirus infection, a steady drop in the number of people hospitalized with the virus, and a increase of about 8% in the number of residents fully vaccinated.

For outdoor mega-events involving more than 10,000 people, all of the following criteria must be met before the masking requirements are lifted:

  • LA County case rates must show three consecutive weeks at or during moderate transfer as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – that is, less than 50 new weekly cases per week. 100,000 inhabitants
  • Admissions must remain low and stable at or below 600 daily COVID admissions for three consecutive weeks
  • 80% or more of the county’s residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated
  • There are no new reports of significantly circulating new variants of concern that threaten the vaccine’s effectiveness

In addition to the above measurements, in order for the masking requirements to be lifted at indoor events or companies involving less than 1,000 people – including indoor offices and workplaces – a vaccination verification process must be in place and all employees and customers must be fully vaccinated. Additional requirements and adjustments must be in place for employees with approved vaccine exemptions.

Masking will still be required at indoor events with 1,000 or more people.

“We hope that with continued increases in vaccination and boosters and compliance with existing common sense precautions, we can reach a lower level of community transfer that positions us to raise masking requirements,” said County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “Although the transmission is significant, we need to continue to lay layers on protection.”

Due to federal and state requirements, indoor masking will remain mandatory on public transportation and federal transportation hubs; at TK-12 schools, childcare and youth environments; health settings; penitentiary facilities; homeless and emergency housing and cold stores; and indoor mega-events involving more than 1,000 people.

Where things stand now

LA County still has a way to go before they meet the required metrics. Over the past week, the county registered about 80 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, according to CDC data. To reach the moderate level, the case frequency must fall below 50.

The figure reflects “continued significant transmission” across the county and a slight increase from last week’s case rate of 72 new cases per county. 100,000 residents, the department said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the county is closer to reaching the threshold of 600 daily hospital admissions listed in the new requirements, with 659 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized as of Tuesday. That’s an increase of 30 daily admissions over the past week.

From Sunday, 72% of the county’s residents aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated according to county data, with 80% of the residents receiving at least one dose. To meet the new measurements, 80% must be fully vaccinated.

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