Today, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health provided the framework for lifting masking requirements at many entertainment events, workplaces and other indoor establishments.
For outdoor mega events involving more than 10,000 people, the county said that before masking requirements are lifted, all of the following criteria need to be met:
1.) L.A. County case rates must demonstrate three consecutive weeks at or below moderate transmission as defined by the CDC – that is, less than 50 new weekly cases per 100,000 residents
2.) Hospitalizations remain low and stable at or below 600 daily Covid hospitalizations for three consecutive weeks
3.) 80% or more of county residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated
4.) There are no emerging reports of significantly circulating new variants of concern that threaten vaccine effectiveness.
For masking requirements to be lifted at indoor events or establishments involving fewer than 1,000 people, including indoor offices and worksites, the following are required:
1.) Sites must have a vaccination verification process in place
2.) All employees and customers must be fully vaccinated, accommodating with additional requirements those employees with approved exemptions
3.) L.A. County metrics must meet all of the same standards as for lifting masking requirements at outdoor mega events.
Indoor masking will remain mandatory due to federal and state requirements on public transit and transportation hubs (federal), and at TK-12 schools, childcare, and youth settings; healthcare settings; correctional facilities; homeless and emergency shelters and cooling centers; and indoor mega events involving more than 1,000 people (state).
So where does the county stand on the requirements revealed today? L.A. is within striking distance of many of its goals, but very recent trends are moving it further away.
Officials reported this afternoon that the current CDC estimation of the L.A. County’s weekly case rate is 80.3 new cases per 100,000 residents, “reflecting continued substantial transmission across the county and a small increase from last week’s case rate of 72 new cases per 100,000 residents.” That’s well above the 50 new weekly cases per 100,000 threshold outlined above.
There are 659 people with Covid currently hospitalized and 26% of these people are in the ICU. This is an increase of 30 daily hospitalizations over the past week and above the 600 daily hospitalizations (for three weeks) necessary to lift masking rules.
In terms of vaccinations, the county currently has 72% of residents aged 12 and up fully vaccinated, according to its dashboard.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer addressed the “new variants” issue last Thursday saying, “Delta variants are still causing 100% of cases in L.A. County,” with no new cases of Mu or Lambda, two other worrisome strains previously identified in the county.
Overall, key Covid numbers — such as hospitalizations and test positivity — have risen slightly in the past week. It remains to be seen whether they represent a blip or the beginning of the winter surge some officials, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, have warned about.
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