LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Days after most spectators at Super Bowl LVI were seen ignoring the face-covering requirement, Los Angeles County will lift its COVID-19 mandate on Wednesday that requires people to wear masks at outdoor mega-events and outdoors at K-12 schools and child care centers.
Lax adherence to the mask requirement at SoFi Stadium was an issue throughout the recently concluded NFL season, however, the county insisted that the rule remain in place amid elevated COVID virus-related hospitalizations.
But that will change Wednesday, when the outdoor mask-wearing requirement is officially lifted. Wednesday will be the seventh consecutive day the number of COVID-19-positive patients in the county remained below 2,500 -- the benchmark previously announced by county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
As of Tuesday, there were 1,995 COVID-positive hospital patients in the county, according to state figures.
Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the outdoor mask requirement will be formally lifted at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
The move will coincide with the state's Wednesday lifting of its indoor mask-wearing requirement for fully vaccinated residents. Los Angeles County, however, will maintain its indoor mask mandate for all people, regardless of vaccination status.
Ferrer said again Tuesday that the county's indoor masking rule will remain in place until the county's virus-transmission rate falls to the "moderate'' level, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and stays there for two weeks. Ferrer said the county's rate is declining, and at the current pace, it should reach the "moderate'' level by March 16, meaning the indoor mask requirement could be lifted by March 30.
She said she understands residents' desire to shed face coverings, but the "issue is one of timing.'' Ferrer said masks are a critical level of protection when virus transmission remains high.
The 1,995 virus-positive hospital patients reported Tuesday was down from 2,054 on Monday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care units was 423 as of Tuesday, down from 437 on Monday.
Hospitalizations had climbed to over 4,800 in mid-January at the height of the Omicron-variant-fueled winter surge in cases.
The county on Monday also reported 26 more COVID-19-related deaths, raising the overall virus death toll to 29,928.
Another 2,457 COVID cases were announced, although the number is likely low to standard delays in reporting from the weekend. The new cases gave the county a cumulative total of 2,764,073 from throughout the pandemic.
The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 3% as of Monday.
The county had not yet released its Tuesday case numbers as of midday.
Ferrer made another public push Monday for people to get vaccinated, particularly residents in generally under-served and higher-impact neighborhoods. She also noted that the vaccination rate remains low among children aged 5-11.
"We are once again at a pivotal point in our recovery journey where we don't have the luxury of ignoring our individual and collective responsibilities,'' she said in a statement. "Given where we are, and the continued risk in under-resourced communities, we need to use sensible safety protections that help us drive down transmission of this dangerous virus.
Improving vaccination rates remains a priority since vaccines provide both significant protection for the vaccinated person and for the community around them.''
The county plans to host more than 800 mobile vaccination clinics this week, in addition to standard vaccine locations.
Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.
Note: The video above is from a previous report.
LA County's outdoor mask requirement will end Wednesday morning
The move will coincide with the state's Wednesday lifting of its indoor mask-wearing requirement for fully vaccinated residents.
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