Los Angeles County is one step closer to dropping the indoor mask rule on Friday as health data backs the latest COVID-19 policy shift.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially labeled Los Angeles County as having "low'' COVID-19 activity meaning the county will formally lift its indoor mask-wearing mandate on March 4.
After the state of California dropped its indoor mask mandate -- with some exceptions -- LA County seemed to be a holdout. But local policy is now expected to shift March 4.
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An important distinction to note: According to state mandates, masks are still required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor places like health care facilities, transit centers, airports, aboard public transit, correctional facilities and homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.
LA Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday in a briefing that a surge plan would be in place should cases go up after the mask mandate was dropped.
California schools were also set to shift mask rules starting March 12 at K-12 school campuses. Masks will not be required, but recommended. LAUSD however is expected to keep the mask mandate through the end of the year.
So what has happened in the last week to confirm the rule change?
LA County has to fall in the medium or low risk category. Before the CDC announcement Thursday, LA was in the high risk category based on hospitalizations, variants of concern, and outbreaks. If these numbers start to increase, the mask mandate might be not be dropped, or could be reinstated if numbers started to explode, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
The Friday before when rumblings of a mask mandate change became known in LA, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had announced new standards for enforcing mask mandates, which the state followed.
Thursday, in following the state guidelines, Universal Studios Hollywood even shifted its rules. Guests can go maskless indoors at the park, do not have to show vaccination at the door, and do not have to show a negative COVID-19 test.
Orange County, already firmly in the medium risk category, is aligned with the state mandate, and anyone can go maskless indoors regardless of vaccination status. Disneyland is allowing vaccinated guests to go maskless as well -- but unvaccinated guests 2 and older must wear masks indoors. See details here.