LA County employers must provide medical-grade masks to workers starting Monday

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new mask requirement is set to go into effect in Los Angeles County on Monday.

Employers must provide medical-grade surgical masks, or N95 or KN95 masks to indoor workers who are in close contact with others.

Experts say medical-grade masks filter out 95% of particles in the air, giving you an extra level of protection as we deal with the omicron variant.

"They are higher level in terms of protection, more than a surgical mask or procedural mask, and more than a cloth mask," said Dr. Muntu Davis, L.A. County health officer

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Employees in Los Angeles County who work indoors alongside others will be required to wear medical-grade masks starting Jan. 17, according to a new county health order.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has urged residents to avoid dangerous activities in the coming weeks, particularly those that are indoors and involve mingling with unvaccinated or higher-risk people. She also stressed that while the omicron variant is easily capable of infecting vaccinated people, the shots are still proving to be effective in preventing infected people from winding up hospitalized.

She called on residents to get vaccinated and obtain booster shots; wear upgraded masks such as N95, KN95 or KF94 varieties; and get tested, saying the county dramatically expanded testing availability after shortages two weeks ago that led to long lines at some test centers.

RELATED: Evidence emerging that cloth masks are not as effective as surgical masks against COVID

City News Service contributed to this report.

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