TOP NEWS AT A GLANCE
For Immediate Release:
March 4, 2022
Public Health Revises Masking Guidance and Reminds Residents that Vaccines Still Provide the Most Powerful Protection
1,427 New Positive Cases and 47 New Deaths Due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County
Given that the County is now at the Low Community Risk Level, Public Health has modified the Health Officer Order to update the County’s masking guidance. Under the modified order, indoor masking is now strongly recommended, but not required, for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in public settings and businesses, except in high-risk settings where federal or state regulations continue to require masking. Masks will be required while indoors at all schools until March 12 when masking indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students, staff, teachers, and visitors, is strongly recommended.
The settings where masking continues to be required also include public transit, transportation hubs, all health care settings (including long term care and adult and senior care facilities), correctional and detention facilities, homeless shelters, heating and cooling centers, and emergency shelters.
At all sites where masking indoors is no longer mandatory, employers will be required to offer, for voluntary use, medical grade masks and respirators to employees working indoors in close contact with other workers, customers and/or members of the public.
Furthermore, residents are encouraged to assess their personal and family risks and may decide that wearing a mask is the right decision for them. In deciding, individuals should consider:
- Are there individuals in the household who have underlying health conditions that create elevated risk for severe illness from COVID?
- Are there unvaccinated family members in the household including young children not yet eligible for vaccines?
- Does anyone in the household work in a setting with vulnerable individuals at elevated risk of severe illness from COVID?
The modified Health Officer Order also updates requirements for pre-entry vaccination or negative test verifications. Vaccine verification in health care and congregate care settings is still required. Pre-entry vaccine verification also remains required for entry to indoor mega events, with a negative test result as a substitute for those not fully vaccinated. Pre-entry vaccine verification, or verification of a negative COVID-19 viral test, is now strongly recommended, but no longer required, at outdoor mega events and indoor portions of bars, nightclubs, and lounges.
Public Health notes that as mandated safety measures decrease at many sites and public spaces, individuals are encouraged to take advantage of the powerful protections offered by the FDA approved COVID vaccines and boosters.
When looking at case rates for residents five years of age and older from February 13-19, unvaccinated residents were almost two and a half times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 when compared to those fully vaccinated, but not boosted, and more than three times more likely to be infected than people who were vaccinated and boosted.
Unvaccinated people were also four times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 when compared to those fully vaccinated, but not boosted, and nine times more likely to be hospitalized than people who were vaccinated and boosted.
The difference is most stark with deaths. For the period of February 6-12, fully vaccinated individuals were 18 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than unvaccinated individuals.
“Our hearts remain with those families experiencing the sorrow of losing those they love to COVID-19,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “With fewer people becoming infected and becoming severely ill with COVID-19, and safety requirements relaxed, it is very tempting to think the pandemic is over and we can return to the way things were before March 2020. And while transmission has slowed and we have powerful tools that help many avoid the worst effects of the virus, there continue to be thousands of people whose lives, families, and work are disrupted each day because they or someone close to them is newly infected, and, for some, their infection will lead to severe illness. With fewer required safety measures, getting vaccinated and boosted provides both individual and community protection that can help safeguard those who remain vulnerable. If you are one of the 1.7 million eligible residents who haven’t yet received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or one of the 2.7 million residents eligible for, but not yet boosted, this is a very good time to make an appointment or walk in to one of the hundreds of convenient sites across the County where you can get your vaccine or booster for free.”
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