Here’s what needs to happen for L.A. County to lift its mask mandate

Coronavirus

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released criteria Tuesday for lifting COVID-19 masking requirements at events and indoor establishments.

The day for putting away your face coverings for good remains a ways away, with strict metrics needing to be met first, including a significant decline in coronavirus case transmission, a steady fall in the number of people hospitalized with the virus, and an increase of about 8% in the number of residents fully vaccinated.

For outdoor mega events involving more than 10,000 people, all of the following criteria must be met before masking requirements are lifted:

  • L.A. County case rates must demonstrate three consecutive weeks at or below moderate transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – that is, less than 50 new weekly cases per 100,000 residents
  • Hospitalizations must remain low and stable at or below 600 daily COVID hospitalizations for three consecutive weeks
  • 80% or more of county residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated
  • There are no emerging reports of significantly circulating new variants of concern that threaten vaccine effectiveness

In addition to those metrics, for masking requirements to be lifted at indoor events or establishments involving less than 1,000 people — including indoor offices and worksites — there must be a vaccination verification process in place, and all employees and customers must be fully vaccinated. Additional requirements and accommodations must be in place for employees with approved vaccine exemptions.

Masking will still be required at indoor events with 1,000 or more people.

“We are hopeful that with continued increases in vaccination and boosters and adherence to the existing common sense safety precautions, we can reach a lower level of community transmission that positions us to lift the masking requirements,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “While transmission is substantial, we need to continue layering on protections.”

Due to federal and state requirements, indoor masking will remain mandatory on public transit and federal transportation hubs; 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.

Where things stand now

L.A. County still has a ways to go before meeting the required metrics. Over the last week, the county recorded about 80 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, according to CDC data. To reach the moderate tier, the case rate would have to fall below 50.

The figure reflects “continued substantial transmission” across the county and a small increase from last week’s case rate of 72 new cases per 100,000 residents, the department said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the county is closer to reaching the 600 daily hospitalization threshold listed in the new requirements, with 659 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized as of Tuesday. This is an increase of 30 daily hospitalizations over the past week.

As of Sunday, 72% of county residents ages 12 and over are fully vaccinated, according to county data, with 80% of residents having received at least one dose. To meet the new metrics, 80% would have to be fully vaccinated.

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