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LA County will end mask order on public transit, in airports on Friday

Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

L.A. County health officials would still strongly recommend certain individuals — including older or unvaccinated residents, as well as those with underlying health conditions or who live in high-poverty areas — mask up in higher-risk settings. Such spaces include those that are crowded, involve close contact with others or have poor air flow.

Ferrer also urged people to wear masks on public transit and in hubs such as airports.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health had previously said it would ease its guidance whenever the county dipped below the threshold of 100 coronavirus cases a week for every 100,000 residents.

L.A. County has now hit that mark. For the seven-day period that ended Thursday, L.A. County reported 98 coronavirus cases a week for every 100,000 residents.

Ferrer said transit masking could be reinstated if the case rate were to again surpass 100 and remain above that threshold for 14 straight days.

“You cannot just ignore the higher risk associated with public transit, especially for transit workers,” she said. “If case rates rise to indicate high transmission, layering in more protection to prevent spread is appropriate.”

Some L.A. County mask orders will remain in place beyond Friday, including the requirement that anyone exposed to the coronavirus wear a mask for 10 days following an exposure. Being exposed to the coronavirus is defined as sharing the same indoor air space for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.


Infected individuals in L.A. County also are required to stay home for at least five days after their first symptoms or the date of their first positive test if they don’t have symptoms. They can exit isolation as early as the sixth day if they test negative on a rapid test, and generally can end isolation at the start of the 11th day without needing a negative test result.

L.A. County’s masking orders for exposed and infected people are the same as those imposed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, for employees at a worksite. The California Department of Public Health has similar guidelines for exposed and infected people, but unlike L.A. County and Cal/OSHA, it makes them recommendations, not requirements.

California also is largely rescinding its strong recommendation that everyone — regardless of vaccination status — mask up when in indoor public settings and businesses. Instead, California will recommend universal indoor masking only when a county’s COVID-19 community level is high.

The changes will give “Californians the information they should consider when deciding when to wear a mask, including the rate of spread in the community and personal risk,” Dr. Tomás Aragón, California’s public health director and state health officer, said in a statement.

California health officials say that mask use remains important for protection against infection. In 2021, consistently wearing a face mask in indoor public settings reduced the risk of getting a coronavirus infection, the state Department of Public Health said, citing a study it published. And a 10% increase in self-reported mask wearing tripled the likelihood of slowing community transmission of the coronavirus, officials said, citing a series of surveys nationwide.

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