LA County lift mask requirement for public transit, airports as COVID transmission drops

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — As transmission of COVID-19 declines, face masks will no longer be required on buses, trains and other mass transit vehicles in Los Angeles County starting Friday, nor will they be required at airports and other transportation hubs.

Los Angeles County was the only jurisdiction in the state that still required masks to be used on public transit. From Friday, face coverings will only be “strongly recommended” for transit vehicles and junctions.

Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for the county, said transit masks remain only “strongly recommended” as long as the county remains at the federal government’s “low” level of COVID activity and the weekly infection rate remains below 100 new cases per 100,000 residents.

If the rate rises above 100 new infections per 100,000 people, masks will be made compulsory again for transit vehicles. The county’s rate as of Thursday was 98 cases per 100,000 people.

The change in the transit masking rule coincides with the general relaxation of state and county mask rules on Friday. The easing of the mask requirement in correctional facilities, homeless shelters or cooling centers is no longer applicable.

Los Angeles County will also lower its overall indoor masking policy from “highly recommended” to “individual preference.”

However, masks are still mandatory in healthcare, long-term care and adult/elderly care facilities. Individual businesses and venues may also require masks indoors if they so choose. People who are at higher risk of infection or who have a serious illness should also consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor public spaces, officials said.

People who are beginning to show symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been exposed to the virus are also required to wear a mask for 10 days, according to county guidelines. People who have tested positive for the virus but are able to leave isolation six days after testing negative will also be required to wear a mask when returning to work or school.

The county has been seeing downward trends in COVID infections and hospitalizations for weeks.

On Thursday, the number of COVID-positive patients at Los Angeles County hospitals fell to 551 from 573 on Wednesday, according to state figures. Of those patients, 77 were being treated in intensive care units, up from 83 on Wednesday.

County officials said about 43% of patients with COVID were actually hospitalized for virus-related illnesses, while the rest were admitted for other reasons, with some not learning they were infected until they were tested on admission.

The county Department of Health on Thursday reported an additional 1,666 COVID infections, bringing the cumulative total throughout the pandemic to 3,444,630. The county’s officially reported case numbers are also believed to be low due to the popularity of home testing, the results of which are generally not reported to the county.

Another 12 COVID-related deaths were reported Wednesday, bringing the county’s total death toll to 33,519.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 4.7% on Thursday.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

Copyright © 2022 City News Service, Inc. All rights reserved. LA County lift mask requirement for public transit, airports as COVID transmission drops

Laura Coffey

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