LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles County’s health director presented a set of criteria today being monitored for a possible lifting of mask-wearing mandates at large outdoor events and in indoor settings such as workplaces, but the requirements likely mean face coverings will be around into the new year.
The county has maintained its strict masking requirements despite growing vaccination numbers and downward trends in COVID-19 hospitalizations and infections.
Speaking to the county Board of Supervisors, Barbara Ferrer said the Department of Public Health has developed a list of key metrics the county must meet before the mask mandate can be lifted for large outdoor events and in indoor settings with less than 1,000 people.
Most notably, the county must have three consecutive weeks of “moderate” virus transmission as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means the county must have a cumulative seven-day new case rate of less than 50 per 100,000 residents. According to the CDC, the county’s current rate is 83 per 100,000 residents, landing the county in the “substantial” transmission category. Ferrer noted that the county’s rate last week was about 72, meaning virus transmission has actually increased in the last seven days.
Other criteria that must be reached to consider lifting masking requirements are three consecutive weeks of low hospitalization numbers, a full-vaccination rate of 80% of residents aged 12 and older, and no emerging reports of widely circulating COVID-19 “variants of concern” that could lead to new surges of infections.