The county will, however, waive the requirement that people wear masks at outdoor mega-events and outdoors at K-12 schools and daycares.
Wednesday marks the seventh day in a row that the number of positive COVID-19 patients in the county has remained below 2,500 – the benchmark previously announced by county public health director Barbara Ferrer. As of Tuesday, there were 1,995 COVID-positive hospital patients in the county, according to state figures.
Ferrer told the board of supervisors on Tuesday that the outdoor mask requirement will officially be lifted at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has previously called on the county to align with the state and also lift its indoor mask mandate, saying it’s creating too much confusion and frustration among residents to have any stricter local rules.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Janice Hahn joined Barger in that appeal, pointing to widespread violations of the county’s outdoor mask-wearing rule during Sunday’s Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.
“Businesses, schools and churches have been fined or shut down for much less,” Hahn said at Tuesday’s board meeting. “And yet it seems like when we have something high-profile, like the Super Bowl or the Emmys, the rules don’t seem to matter anymore.
“I believe our health orders are only effective if people believe them, believe them to be right, and follow them,” she said. “And keeping mandates in place that aren’t being followed only erodes the credibility the public has in us as policy makers to make good, sound decisions.” And I think the more we drag our feet in lifting the indoor mask mandate, the more we distance ourselves from the state and the more public trust we lose.
So far, the other three members of the oversight board – Holly Mitchell, Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl – still support keeping the county’s indoor mask mandate until the criteria set out by Ferrer are met. .
Long Beach officials also said it would align with the county while waiting to lift the indoor mask mandate.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that the indoor mask mandate in most other places would be lifted for those vaccinated starting Wednesday morning, noting a 65% drop in the virus infection rate since the peak of the winter surge caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, as well as a stabilization in the number of hospitalizations.
But he stressed that “unvaccinated people will still need to wear masks indoors”.
The mask-wearing requirement will also remain in effect for everyone in other select indoor locations – schools, transit hubs, airports, emergency shelters, health care facilities, correctional facilities, shelters for the -shelter and long-term care and aged care facilities.
Unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks in indoor settings such as retail stores, restaurants, theaters and government offices. It will be up to individual companies to enforce the rule.
On Monday, the state announced it would continue to require indoor masking in schools until at least February 28, when health officials plan to reevaluate pandemic measures and determine whether the rule can be waived. The announcement came despite Newsom’s earlier indications that the school mask rule would be lifted, but he received some pushback from teachers’ unions.
The state’s decision to lift the indoor mask mandate in most other locations will affect counties that do not have local mandates of their own governing face coverings, such as Orange Counties , Riverside and San Diego. With the lifting of the mandate, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks in Orange County will no longer require vaccinated guests to wear masks indoors or outdoors beginning Thursday.
But masks will be required for all guests in certain indoor settings, such as Disney shuttles and “in health care settings, such as first aid.”
In Los Angeles County and Long Beach, mask requirements will remain in effect for vaccinated and unvaccinated people in indoor settings until the county’s level of virus transmission drops to ‘moderate’ as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for two weeks in a row. It would also be lifted once COVID vaccines are available for children under 5 for a total of eight weeks. It is unclear when federal authorities will approve vaccines for this age group.
To achieve the CDC’s “moderate” level of transmission, the county must have a cumulative seven-day rate of new cases of less than 50 per 100,000 population. According to the CDC’s website, the county’s rate was 458 per 100,000 people on Tuesday. Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that at this current rate the rate is declining, the county should achieve a “moderate” classification on March 16.
This would mean the mask mandate would be lifted by March 30, if no new “concerning variant” of the COVID virus materializes.
Barger acknowledged Tuesday that there was an end in sight to the mask mandate, but she said the county should act faster, align with the state, and lift the requirement immediately.
Ferrer noted that the mandate could be lifted sooner in some indoor locations where other “layers of protection” are in place, such as mandatory vaccinations or COVID testing. She said the Public Health Department could be ready as early as next week to come up with a recommendation for such a relaxation of the rule in some places.
Los Angeles County’s requirement that people wear masks at outdoor mega-events and outdoors at schools and daycares will be lifted at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The move came after the county adhered to the previously announced guideline that virus-related hospitalizations remain below 2,500 for seven consecutive days. Tuesday marked the sixth straight day the requirement was met, with 1,995 hospitalizations, according to state figures.