LA County continues to recommend masks indoors despite mandate end

DAYS after Los Angeles County dropped the indoor mask mandate, health officials are continuing to urge residents to wear masks in certain public settings, regardless of vaccination status.

An advisory on Monday, March 7 from the LA County Department of Public Health urges masks to be worn in indoor public settings, especially if residents live with individuals who are at elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Masks are still require indoors at county schools until March 12, when the mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated students, staff, teachers and visitors will not be required, but strongly recommended.

Despite the mask recommendations, masks are also required at health care facilities, long-term care facilities, correctional and detention facilities, shelters and on public transit, aligning with both federal and state guidelines.

While any mask is better than no mask, it is important to recognize that well-fitting respirators provide the most protection, especially for those at elevated risk. Respirators such as a N95, KN95 and KF94 are designed to filter out very small particles, with N95 and KN95 respirators filtering at least 95% of airborne particles and KF94s filtering at least 94%. Respirators that fit well and provide a tight seal on the face provide more protection than a cloth mask or a medical mask. They may be less comfortable because they fit more tightly. When choosing a respirator, residents should consider how well it fits and read the manufacturer instructions on how to wear, store, and clean or properly dispose of the respirator.

Well-fitting medical masks, also called surgical masks, provide less protection than respirators, they are better than cloth masks. The best medical masks have a nose wire and at least three layers of non-woven or spun bound fabric and melt-blown fabric, which are often made of polypropylene. Cloth masks without a filter or layer of synthetic non-woven material provide the least amount of protection.

At all sites where masking indoors is no longer mandatory, employers are required to offer, for voluntary use, medical grade masks and respirators to employees working indoors in close contact with other workers, customers and/or members of the public.

“I send my heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the countless people who have lost a loved one to this pandemic,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “Although masking is not required, both the state and our Public Health Department are strongly recommending masking, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public spaces. And those who are at elevated risk, or who live with someone who is at elevated risk, should wear a well-fitting respirator, as they provide the best protection against COVID-19.  COVID related illness can be quite dangerous for many, since even those initially experiencing relatively mild illness can go on to develop long COVID. Taking sensible precautions remains the best way to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

LA County Public Health confirmed 43 additional deaths, 531 cases on Sunday, March 6 and 1,144 new cases being reported on Monday, March 7. Of the 43 new deaths reported for Sunday and today, two people were between the ages of 30-49, 12 were between the ages of 50-64, 12 were between the ages of 65-79, and 17 were aged 80 years or older. Of the 43 newly reported deaths, 35 had underlying health conditions.  To date, the total number of deaths in LA County is 31,046.

Public Health has reported a total of 2,805,119 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County. The positivity rate is 1.0%.

There are 731 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 11,488,400 individuals, with 22% of people testing positive. n

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