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LA County COVID Cases Decrease As CDC Relaxes Its Protocols

A white sign with black letters says "face coverings required" with the illustration of a person wearing a mask.
A sign is posted about required face coverings in Grand Central Market on July 19, 2021. A new mask mandate went into effect amid a troubling rise in COVID-19 cases.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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For the first time since July, Los Angeles County moved down to the medium community level on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID tracker today. The agency also released a pared-down list of COVID-19 protocols.

One of the updated regulations states that if you’re exposed to COVID but are asymptomatic, the recommendation is to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days instead of quarantining.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the revisions are mostly in line with the county’s current policies.

“I will note that this is just practical, because we can't do the contact tracing we used to do in the past [because] everybody doesn't report their results,” she said. “We really rely on cases identifying themselves to their close contacts.”

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While the regulations have been lowered, Ferrer says there are three stipulations individuals should follow:

  • Don’t go out if you have symptoms until you’re confirmed negative,
  • Do get tested around five days after you’ve been exposed, 
  • And do wear a mask when you’re inside and close to others. 

“If people can go ahead and follow those steps, it doesn't make sense for them to be staying home,” said Ferrer.

If you do test positive for COVID, the CDC recommends isolating for at least five days, depending on symptoms, and wearing a mask when you’re close to others.

The CDC also removed the “test-to-stay” protocol for schools, which required unvaccinated students to get screened regularly in order to attend classes. The guidance is for schools to rely more on masking than tracking exposures.

However, Ferrer said the CDC stresses local communities should be cognizant of what the most vulnerable communities may need at this time.

“They're really clear about making sure that schools aren't unintentionally leaving out people who are more vulnerable for risk of severe illness, [who are] sometimes unable to feel safe attending school,” she said. “We need to work together.”

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