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L.A. County Drops Outdoor Mask Mandate, But Keeps Indoor

Los Angeles County is changing its masking requirements — but only for outdoor settings. 

The county lifted its outdoor masking requirements on Wednesday for K-12 schools, child-care, youth sports, and mega events, but masks are still mandated in indoor public areas in the county. The move comes as the state alters its mask mandate to only affect unvaccinated individuals. 

“With significant improvement in community transmission rates, we’re looking forward to realigning our safety measures while continuing as always to ensure protections for our workers and our most vulnerable residents,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, per the Los Angeles Times.  

“County health officials had said they would drop outdoor masking requirements once coronavirus-positive hospitalizations dropped below 2,500 for seven consecutive days,” the Times noted. The county got below that number last Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, the most recent state hospital data showed that there were 1,835 ICU coronavirus-positive patients in L.A. County. “That figure has fallen 29% in the last week,” the Times added.

With regard to indoor mask-wearing in L.A. County, the strategy has reportedly shifted. “County health officials said they will keep the indoor mask mandate in place until the region records seven consecutive days at a ‘moderate’ level of coronavirus transmission, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Originally, health officials said ‘moderate’ transmission would be required for at least two weeks,” per the Times. 

To get to that point, the county’s daily count of new cases would need to drop under 730. Ferrer estimated that the county could reach that number by the middle of March if transmissions continue to go down. 

The opportunity for young children under the age of five to get vaccinated against COVID is also reportedly not going to be used as a measurement for changing the requirements.

“We’re no longer using the availability of the vaccine as a metric to consider lifting indoor masking, because it’s just too far out,” Ferrer said. “We think that there are sensible metrics that we take into account, and that our improving case numbers really help us make sure that we are able to continue protections for workers in places where masking will be required.” 

Some believe that as long as L.A. County does not go along with the state orders, people will continue to take the measures less and less seriously. 

Supervisor Janice Hahn said Tuesday, per the Times, “Businesses, schools, churches were fined or shut down for far less, and yet it seems like when we have something high-profile like the Super Bowl or the Emmys, the rules just don’t seem to matter anymore.”

“And I believe that our health orders are only effective if people believe in them, if they think they are fair and if they follow them. And keeping mandates in place that aren’t followed just erodes the credibility the public has in us as policymakers,” she noted, adding, “The longer we drag our feet on lifting the indoor mask mandate, the more out of step we get from the state, and the more trust that we lose from our public.”

Ferrer noted how people have different views on mask-wearing, saying, “There are some people who would like us to move in one direction, and other people who are very fearful if we were to move in that direction and lift those mask mandates — including parents of schoolchildren, people who work in schools and people who work in our essential businesses.”

Ferrer said the county is looking at potentially getting rid of the indoor mask rule earlier in some areas where there are “additional layers of protection,” which could include settings that check vaccination status, per the Times. Additional information on that could be provided next week.

L.A. County’s move comes after the Super Bowl was held at SoFi Stadium while California was still under a state of emergency. Many of the fans were not wearing masks and ignoring the rule that had been set in place. 

As The Daily Wire reported, “While the game at SoFi Stadium also required either proof of vaccination or a negative test in order to attend, the mask mandate at the Super Bowl was widely ignored by fans. LA mayor Eric Garcetti was seen maskless at the game, while dozens of celebrities were also seen flaunting the mask requirement.”

The state of California recently lifted its indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people. 

According to the state’s website:

Everyone is required to wear masks in:

  • Public transit and in stations, terminals, and airports
  • Indoors in K-12 schools and childcare
  • Healthcare settings
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
  • Homeless shelters
  • Long-term care settings and adult and senior care facilities

It added: 

Masks are required for unvaccinated people and recommended for everyone in: 

  • Indoor public settings
  • Retail
  • Restaurants
  • Theaters
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Meetings
  • State and local government offices that serve the public

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