L.A. County Still Weeks Away From Lifting Indoor Mask Mandate, Ferrer Estimates

Los Angeles County is probably weeks away from lifting its indoor mask mandate, and at the latest could ease the order by the end of April — unless a new coronavirus variant poses a threat.

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There are two triggers that could result in L.A. County easing its indoor mask mandate, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced Tuesday.

The first is the county entering a “moderate” rate of transmission, in which cases fall below 730 a day for two consecutive weeks, Ferrer said.

“We anticipate being able to get to ‘moderate’ transmission — if we can continue to drive down the rates, as we are right now on our cases — within a few weeks. But we’re not there yet,” Ferrer said at a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

L.A. County is averaging about 9,500 cases a day, according to a Times analysis of state data. Case rates in the county are dropping in half every week, Ferrer said. If this pace continues, the county would fall under the goal of 730 cases a day in early March and could exit the indoor mask order two weeks later, according to a Times analysis.

The county’s goal matches the recommendations issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends that vaccinated people in indoor public settings wear masks when there are 50 or more cases a week for every 100,000 residents; for L.A. County, this would mean 730 cases a day.

The second condition that would trigger the lifting of the county mask order, Ferrer said, is for eight weeks to elapse after children ages 6 months to 4 years become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering the vaccine for that age group on Feb. 15, and an advisory panel to the CDC is meeting the following week, so it’s possible that vaccines could become available by the end of February. This means L.A. County could lift its mask order by the end of April.

“We think the end of April is the sort of endpoint,” Ferrer said.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

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