Los Angeles County may be on the verge of relaxing its indoor mask-wearing requirement, with Supervisor Janice Hahn announcing Tuesday that vaccinated people will soon be able to dispose of face coverings at indoor locations that check status vaccination against COVID-19.
On his Twitter page, Hahn wrote that the county’s public health department will issue an updated health worker order this week, which could take effect Friday, “allowing vaccinated individuals to remove their masks at indoors in places that verify proof of vaccination. This puts us significantly closer to alignment with the state.”
The Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Such a move would be a major relaxation of the county’s strict indoor mask mandate, which requires people to cover their faces in most indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. The county rule remains in effect, even though the state lifted its indoor mask mandate last week.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer previously outlined the steps that would need to be followed for the county to drop its indoor mask mandate — steps that would likely keep the rule in place until the end of March.
But dissent grew on the county board of supervisors last week when Hahn joined colleague Kathryn Barger in demanding that the county align with the state on the issue of indoor masking.
Although a majority of the five council members continued to support the county’s masking rule, Ferrer told the panel last Tuesday that the health agency was exploring the possibility of relaxing the interior mandate in places where other “layers protections” are in place, such as vaccinations or mandatory COVID tests.
Previously, Ferrer said the inside mask rule would remain in place until:
— the level of COVID transmission in the county drops to the “moderate” level as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and remains there for two weeks; WHERE
— COVID vaccines have been available to residents under age 5 for at least eight weeks; AND
– no emerging COVID “variants of concern” have been identified that could trigger a further increase in cases.
According to Ferrer, to achieve the CDC’s “moderate” level of transmission, the county must have a seven-day cumulative infection rate of less than 50 per 100,000 population. On Monday, the county’s rate was 133 per 100,000 people.
Ferrer noted that the county’s rate was steadily declining and that at the current rate, the county would achieve “moderate” designation by March 16, meaning the indoor mask mandate would be lifted by March 30. March.
Barger, however, argued that maintaining stricter rules than the state created confusion among residents and contributed to a lack of compliance – which was on full display during the recent Super Bowl in Inglewood, where fans almost universally violated the county’s outdoor mask-wearing mandate. .
That outdoor masking mandate was lifted last Wednesday — three days after the Super Bowl — for outdoor “mega-events” and outdoor activities at schools and daycares. Masks are still required inside schools under a state order that is scheduled to be reviewed at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County reported another 36 COVID-related deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total number of pandemic-related deaths to 30,411.
Another 1,188 cases have also been confirmed, giving the county’s cumulative total throughout the pandemic of 2,785,449. The rolling average daily rate of people tested for the virus was 1.9% on Tuesday.
According to state figures, there were 1,276 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Tuesday, up from 1,310 on Monday. Among these patients, 279 were treated in intensive care.
According to figures released last week, 82% of eligible residents aged 5 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, while 74% are fully vaccinated and 36% are fully vaccinated and received a booster.
Of the county’s 10.3 million residents, 78% have received at least one dose, 70% are fully immunized and 34% have received a booster shot.