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By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff 

Could We See Masks Off in LA County's Public Places Soon?

LA County Department of Public Health releases metrics that would allow venues to ease off on mask requirements

 

November 5, 2021

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University of North Texas graduates in their masks. Could outdoor graduations this coming spring be maskless?

November 3, 2021 - Yesterday the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released guidelines for lifting masking requirements in various venues. Daily hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 have been steadily decreasing over the past several months. The daily test positivity rate has decreased exponentially since early August. The test positivity rate yesterday was 1.0%. Overall test positivity rate since the beginning of the pandemic is 15%.

For any venue to begin lifting mask requirements, L.A. County case rates must demonstrate three consecutive weeks at or below moderate transmission as defined by the CDC – that is, less than 50 new weekly cases per 100,000 residents; hospitalizations remain low and stable at or below 600 daily COVID hospitalizations for three consecutive weeks; 80% or more of county residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; and there are no emerging reports of significantly circulating new variants of concern that threaten vaccine effectiveness.

The county's current weekly case rate is 80.3 new cases per 100,000 residents, up from last week's 72 weekly cases, so the county is still substantially above the metrics laid out for getting rid of masks on that count. Current daily hospitalizations are 659, an increase of 30 daily hospitalizations over the prior week, but fairly close to the 600 required to lift some mask requirements. 72% of the public over age 12 are currently vaccinated, leaving an 8% gap in that requirement.

In addition to these county metrics, none of which have yet been met, the following requirements are necessary in order to lift mask requirements at the following types of venues.

- Outdoor mega events of more than 10,000 people: no additional requirements

- Indoor events and establishments of less than 1,000 people: vaccine verification process in place, all employees and customers fully vaccinated, additional accommodations for employees with approved exemptions.

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Badminton fans (mostly) masked

Due to federal and state requirements, mask requirements may not be lifted, even if all the above metrics are met, in the following:

public transit and transportation hubs (federal)

TK-12 schools, childcare, and youth settings

healthcare settings

correctional facilities

homeless and emergency shelters and cooling centers

indoor mega events involving more than 1,000 people (state).

The effectiveness of the three available Covid-19 vaccines has been declining, impelling the distribution of booster shots for various vulnerable demographics. In addition, the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to propagate among the vaccinated to a significant degree according to a recent article in Bloomberg regarding a UK study.

 

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