Los Angeles Speeds Up Lifting Mask Mandate By More Than a Month

by Victoria Santiago

This week, top health officials in Los Angeles said that the county is expecting to lift its indoor mask mandate sooner than they thought.

According to Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, LA’s indoor mask mandate is likely to be lifted a whole month ahead of the original date. It was originally set to be lifted in late April, but they’re now expecting it to be lifted on March 16. Of course, this date is not set in stone. It’s merely a hopeful projection. If things go right, it could even be lifted earlier.

Lifting the mask mandate has been sped up by an FDA ruling that happened this week. it removed some of the stricter mask requirements that had previously prevented mask mandates from lifting.

Metrics that Los Angeles County Uses

Last week, Dr. Ferrer added a requirement for lifting the indoor mask mandate. She has since gotten rid of the requirement. The metric was that vaccines for children under the age of five must be available for eight weeks before the rule would be lifted. Approval for that was expected to happen at the end of the month. Thus, the mandate was expected to be lifted by the end of April. However, due to delays from the FDA, Ferrer said that the county is “no longer using the availability of the vaccine [to kids under 5] as a metric.”

That isn’t the only metric that the county is using, however. After stating that, Ferrer shared a graphic for all of the other requirements that need to be met. According to that graphic, they’re estimated to be met between March 16 and March 30. As a whole, the state of CA is lifting a similar mandate tomorrow, February 16. However, local rules are allowed to be more strict.

The LA County Mask Mandate Will Be Lifted When…

The LA indoor mask mandate will be lifted for workplaces, retail, and indoor events. This will only happen when the region will have seven days at or below moderate transmission of COVID-19 as defined by the CDC. On top of that, there has to be “no emerging reports of significantly circulating new variants of concern that threaten vaccine effectiveness.”

The CDC says that moderate transmission is when a region averages less than 50 cases per 100,000 over seven days. As of today, the LA county average is below that. State stats report that the county’s seven-day average case rate was 46 per 100,000 residents. Deadline reports that this is down from 117.3 cases per 100,000 residents last week. Yesterday’s case rate was below the average, too. If these numbers keep persisting, the county could easily achieve a full week of below 50 cases. It’s more than possible for the county to reach that milestone before March.