Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer today outlined a framework for reducing Covid mitigation measures as the current Omicron surge falls. She warned however that, even after the surge, the threat level would still be considered “high” and numbers would need to come down further before restrictions are lifted.
“This is not the right time to stop wearing our masks indoors and in crowded outdoor settings,” said Ferrer.
She said the post-surge trigger for easing some restrictions would be when virus-related hospitalizations fall below 2,500 for seven straight days. Thee currently clock in at at 3,398 and falling.
Once that mark is reached, the county will no longer require masks at outdoor mega-events, such as sporting events and concerts, or in outdoor spaces at schools and child-care facilities.
Masks will however be required at indoor events, inside businesses such as restaurants and gyms and in TK-12 schools. One would assume movie theaters and TV and film production would also be on that list.
Ferrer also noted that even if the county lifts its indoor masking mandate, some mask-wearing requirements will remain in place if they are mandated by state or federal authorities — such as in workplaces governed by Cal-OSHA, health-care and correctional facilities governed by the state or airports and transit centers controlled by the federal government.
The next reduction in mandated interventions would come when the county has two consecutive weeks at or below moderate transmission as defined by the CDC and “there are no emerging reports of significantly circulating new variants of concern that threaten vaccine effectiveness.” The CDC bar for moderate transmission is when a region has less than 50 cases per 100,000 in the last 7 days. For the week ending January 31, the county reported 193 cases per 100,000 residents, down from 311 cases per 100,000 the week before.
The announcements come just days after L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Gavin Newsom were photographed without masks at a mega event — the NFC Championship game at SoFi on Sunday — in defiance of the letter of the County Public Health Officer’s order, which says masks may only be removed at such events when “actively eating or drinking.” Garcetti said yesterday he was holding his breath while the picture was taken to avoid exposure.
Those instances and a call from County Supervisor Katheryn Barger to eliminate “blanket covid masking policies,” have put increased focus on the issue in the past few days.
Board of Supervisors Chairperson Holly Mitchell rebuffed Barger later on Wednesday, saying Covid transmission remains too high in the county to relax the masking rule.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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