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LA’s Proposed Mask Mandate Scrapped As COVID Cases Dip

Close up view of a person wearing a white N95 mask
(Chava Sanchez/Laist)
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Los Angeles County health officials won’t reinstate an indoor public mask mandate. Local data show that L.A. is right on the cusp of the federal government’s “medium” COVID risk level, and Public Health officials say cases and hospitalizations have dipped enough to avoid more mask rules.

“Rather than, you know, moving people back and forth, I think, given the data that I shared today, it's a sensible place for us to not…implement that universal indoor masking,” said county public health director Barbara Ferrer at a press conference Thursday.

The decision avoids a patchwork of confusing mask rules across the county.

City councils in El Segundo and Beverly Hills voted this week not to enforce an indoor public mask mandate if it was implemented by county health officials. The cities of Pasadena and Long Beach, which operate their own public health departments separate from L.A. County, also announced they would not issue mask mandates.

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“Given the declines in case and hospitalization numbers, we're hopeful that the admission rate over the next few days remains under 10 new admissions per 100,000 residents and LA County is soon officially moved by CDC to the medium community level,” Ferrer said.

L.A. County has been in the CDC’s "high" community level since July 14, but Ferrer said that given the drop in cases and hospitalizations, that would likely change either Thursday or in a week. The CDC recategorizes counties every Thursday.

A line graph showing COVID cases and hospitalizations dropping since mid July, 2022.
Cases and hospitalizations have dipped since mid July, 2022.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Public Health Dept. )

The number of Angelenos testing positive COVID infection and those hospitalized with COVID have decreased in the past week and half, but still more than 1,200 COVID positive people are hospitalized.

Public Health reported more than 7,000 new cases Thursday, and the county’s positivity rate remains above 16%.

Face masks are still strongly encouraged, especially indoors as transmission remains high, Ferrer said.

Masks are required in high-risk places such as on public transportation; in emergency shelters; in doctor’s offices and hospitals; in homeless shelters and prisons; and in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.

A slide showing local L.A. data that's more up to date than CDC data, reflecting lower hospitalizations.
More timely L.A. data reflects lower hospitalizations.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Public Health Dept. )

Infectious disease experts blame the new omicron double act of BA.4 and BA.5 for the latest surge that may now be subsiding. These two mutated forms are technically subvariants of omicron and now make up 81% of L.A.'s known new cases as of July 9, the most recent data available.

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