LA County health director: Host your Super Bowl parties outside

"Anything you can do outdoors is better than doing activities indoors," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer is defending her decision not to follow the state of California in lifting the mask mandate next week saying the county's case rate is higher now - on average - than it was at the worst part of last year's winter surge.

"We really still have some work to do in driving down that transmission rate, and that's what these masks help us do," she said. "They help us make fast progress towards driving down transmission. As much as we hate wearing these masks, it's not something that changes our ability to actually be functional."

Ferrer believes the outdoor mask mandate will be lifted later this month once we dip below 2,500 hospitalizations for seven consecutive days. She adds the indoor mask mandate will be lifted by April, at the latest, but it could be done sooner.

READ MORE | LA County masking could last through April, public health director says
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Dr. Barbara Ferrer said even though the county's COVID metrics are improving, there are still too many people catching the virus.

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, however, isn't happy with the decision.

"Once again we are being the most restrictive," she said. "Quite frankly, I don't believe the science to back up that."

With L.A. County numbers continuing to head in the right direction, many are wondering whether a new variant is on the way or if we're out of the woods.

"Is this the end? I don't think we can say this is the end, and I don't want to hold out a lot of false hope for everyone that this is going to be the end," Ferrer said. "Maybe it will be. I think it's likely it won't be because viruses mutate, and we have a lot of people across the world still not vaccinated without any protections."

As for the upcoming Super Bowl parties and all the weekend festivities, Ferrer said they won't turn into super spreader events if a few simple rules are followed.

"If you're gathering with people and you're not really sure what their vaccinations status is or they're high risk or unvaccinated, go head and get a test before you gather," she said. "Make sure you're not inadvertently putting somebody else at risk. Anything you can do outdoors is better than doing activities indoors."

Ferrer told Eyewitness News she remains hopeful that with the combination of COVID vaccines and therapeutics like Paxlovid - which she says we're about to have much better access to - we can learn to live with the unpredictability of this virus.

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