Los Angeles County ends outdoor mask mandate

The requirement was blasted on social media after Super Bowl attendees were shown disregarding masks

Los Angeles County ends outdoor mask mandate

Los Angeles County has lifted its outdoor mask mandate for K-12 schools and childcare centers, as well as “mega-events,” such as Super Bowl LVI.

Of course, if you watched the game, you noticed that attendees had already disregarded the requirement.

County officials previously announced that the mandate would be dropped if the number of COVID-19 cases remained under 2,500. Wednesday marked the seventh consecutive day of such a figure, ABC7 reported.

On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared the end of the state’s indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals, citing the drop in the province’s COVID-19 case rate. However, LA County will maintain its indoor mask mandate until the 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, according to county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Congressman Ted Lieu cautioned that there should be a lot of considerations before the lifting of safety measures amid the pandemic. “With the rapid decline of Omicron, pandemic restrictions will be lifted sooner rather than later. In considering when to do so, health officials must factor in natural immunity, not just vaccination rates,” said Lieu.

Read more: What HR needs to know about vaccine mandate for health care workers

As of Monday, California has recorded 8,775,825 COVID-19 cases with 81,437 deaths. Nearly 81% of residents are at least partially vaccinated, according to USA Facts.

Health care workers in California have to get their booster by March 1, as per the state mandate. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Mexico have all enacted similar mandates. Santa Clara County has a similar requirement, with a twist: workers in “high-risk settings,” like hospitals and jails, who are granted a medical or religious exemption aren’t allowed to stay in their position. Instead, they’re to move to a “lower-risk” job setting.

After hospitals in the region complained that the requirement would amplify the current staffing crisis, the county health department created a waiver option, where organizations could get approved to allow unvaccinated employees to stay in their high-risk job settings. However, County Executive Jeff Smith denied six unions’ pleas for waivers.

Meanwhile, San Jose has become the first city in California to mandate that its employees have a COVID-19 booster shot.

In just two weeks, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate goes into effect. More than 10.4 million health care workers at 76,000 medical facilities will have to receive their second dose or get an approved medical or religious exemption. Unlike the proposed private employer mandate, the CMS mandate doesn’t allow testing options in lieu of vaccination.

Only Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito noted their dissents in the health care case. “The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it. At the same time, such unprecedented circumstances provide no grounds for limiting the exercise of authorities the agency has long been recognized to have,” the justices wrote in an unsigned opinion, saying the “latter principle governs” in the healthcare cases.

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