Children are still required to keep their masks on at school, though California will reassess that on Feb. 28.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California health officials lifted the statewide COVID-19 indoor mask mandate in public settings for vaccinated people on Feb.16 at 12:01 a.m. Children, however, are still required to keep their masks on at school for at least another two weeks.
Health & Human Services Agency Sec. Dr. Mark Ghaly announced Monday in a press conference that the state will reassess the current mask requirement for schools on Feb. 28.
Most Southern California counties, with the exception of Los Angeles County, will follow the state's lead and lift their indoor mask mandates as omicron cases decrease. Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties lifted universal mask requirements for most indoor public settings beginning Feb. 16.
Some officials argue that COVID's spread has also waned significantly across the region and that relaxing mask requirements is part of a shift toward a "new normal" of living with the virus rather than attempting to snuff out its spread completely.
Public health officials, however, are still encouraging indoor mask use.
"As we move from a requirement to a strong recommendation, I keep saying it that way because it's important to understand that we're not lifting a masking concept in California. We aren't going form masks one day, don't mask the next," Ghaly said.
However, a few things are changing in L.A. County.
On Tuesday afternoon, the county lifted its mandate that requires people to wear masks at outdoor mega-events and outdoors at K-12 schools and child care centers. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors that the outdoor mask requirement will be formally lifted at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
The county, however, will maintain its indoor mask mandate for all people, regardless of vaccination status.
According to Ferrer, the county's indoor mask rule will not be lifted until the county's virus-transmission rate falls to the "moderate" level as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for two straight weeks, or until COVID vaccines have been available to children under 5 years old for eight weeks.
Reaching the CDC's "moderate" designation requires the county to have a cumulative, seven-day new case rate of less than 50 per 100,000 residents. According to the CDC's website, the county's rate was about 459 per 100,000 as of Monday.
The rate has been steadily dropping, and Ferrer said last week that at the current rate of decline, the county could reach the "moderate" category within a month.
The CDC has said cloth masks are not that effective against omicron, but Santa Clara County Health Director Sara Cody says residents in her county still need this protection.
"Masks are very important additional layer and have been throughout the pandemic," she said. "We need to layer up, need many layers in place when there's a lot of COVID circulating right now. We are still at the high levels of community transmission, we are in the CDC red, and that's why we are still requiring masks indoors."
Here's some guidance from the state of California on current mask recommendations and requirements.
Face masks can help slow the spread of coronavirus and single layer cloth masks are the least effective, unless they are layered, preferably with three or more. Here is a list of masks recommended by the California government.
Whatever mask you wear, make sure it fits to your face closely and without gaps.
Yes. The state requires employers to provide unvaccinated employees with NIOSH-certified respirator masks for voluntary use when working indoors, or in a vehicle with others.
Unvaccinated workers must wear masks in state offices.
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City News Service and KGO-TV contributed to this report.