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Los Angeles County outdoor mask mandate to be lifted at midnight, including at schools

Los Angeles County’s outdoor mask mandate will be lifted at midnight for both mega-events and outside at K-12 schools and child care centres, according to health officials.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, stated in early February that the county will be considered out of the current COVID-19 outbreak when virus-related hospitalizations drop below 2,500 for seven consecutive days, a goal that will be met on Wednesday. According to state data, there were 1,995 COVID-positive hospital patients in the county as of Tuesday.

The outdoor mask requirement will be formally lifted at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. California’s COVID-19 indoor mask-wearing requirement for vaccinated people will be lifted on Wednesday, but the restriction will remain in force in Los Angeles County, which aims to keep its indoor face-covering regulation in place until virus transmission declines drastically.

Ferrer reiterated Tuesday that the county’s indoor masking regulation will remain in effect until the county’s virus transmission rate drops to the “moderate” threshold, as determined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and stays there for two weeks. According to Ferrer, the county’s rate is decreasing, and at this rate, it should hit “moderate” status by March 16, removing the need for an interior mask by March 30.

She said she understands why residents want to take off their masks, but the “issue is one of timing.” Masks, according to Ferrer, provide a vital degree of protection when virus transmission is significant.

Tuesday’s total of 1,995 virus-positive hospital patients fell down from the previous day’s total of 2,054. As of Tuesday, there were 423 patients being treated in intensive care units, down from 437 on Monday.

At the peak of the Omicron-variant-fueled winter surge in cases in mid-January, hospitalizations had risen to nearly 4,800.

On Monday, the county reported 26 more COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total number of virus deaths to 29,928.

Masks will continue to be required in some indoor situations across the state, most notably in schools. The school mask-wearing requirement will remain in effect in California until at least February 28, when health officials will examine pandemic metrics to see whether it may be withdrawn.