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LA Health Officials Say Slight COVID-19 Uptick Is Expected As State Reopens — So Don't Throw Precautions Out The Window

A woman wearing a face mask as a precaution against coronavirus walks past a restaurant in Monterey Park, California. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
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Next Tuesday is when California is slated to lift most of the state's coronavirus safety restrictions — but that doesn't mean the pandemic is over.

Los Angeles County health officials are anticipating a slight increase in the number of daily COVID-19 as the state reopens and businesses return to full capacity, even though case numbers have plummeted in recent months thanks to more people receiving vaccines.

On Friday, L.A. County reported 198 new COVID-19 cases, compared with upwards of 14,000 daily cases seen in January.

But County public health director Barbara Ferrer told KPCC and LAist that Angelenos — especially those who aren't inoculated against the coronavirus — should continue to take some precautions.

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“Hand washing shouldn't go out the window here,” Ferrer said. “Distancing, particularly if you're not vaccinated, in situations where it could be crowded together, that still makes a lot of sense. And particularly for people who aren't vaccinated, your protection is now going to be that mask.”

Starting Tuesday, California will eliminate its color-coded tier system for COVID-19 risk along with public mask mandates, although masks will still be required for unvaccinated people in indoor public settings and businesses.

Ferrer suggested that unvaccinated people consider double-masking for extra protection, or using an N95 respirator mask.

Updated mask guidance effective June 15 will allow fully vaccinated Californians to do most things they did pre-pandemic without wearing a mask. However, everyone will still be required to mask up in high-risk settings such as public transit, healthcare facilities and indoor K-12 schools.

About 65% of Los Angeles County residents have received at least one dose of one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines so far.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced a 13 percent increase in vaccinations statewide over the previous week. California has been offering incentives for those receiving vaccines. Thirty people have so far been selected to receive $50,000 in a cash prize lottery for those who receive vaccines; a final $1.5 million lottery drawing is set for Tuesday as the state reopens.