As the county continues to experience reduced COVID-19 spread, it is appropriate to consider fewer required safety measures, noting that vulnerable individuals should continue to layer in all protections possible. Given decreased risk, Public Health is modifying the Health Officer Order to allow establishments, businesses, and venues verifying vaccination status to offer optional masking for fully vaccinated individuals. The modified Health Officer Order will be posted today and will go into effect at 12:01am on Friday, February 25.

The vaccines remain highly effective at slowing COVID-19 spread and preventing severe illness. For the week ending February 12, county residents who were unvaccinated were more than two and half times more likely to be infected when compared to individuals who were fully vaccinated. When comparing unvaccinated individuals with those vaccinated and fully boosted, unvaccinated people were nearly four times more likely to be infected.

The vaccine also continues to provide very strong protection against hospitalization and death. For the week ending February 12, unvaccinated people were five times more likely to be hospitalized compared to fully vaccinated residents. Fully vaccinated and boosted individuals were more than 13 times less likely to end up hospitalized compared to unvaccinated people. And the likelihood of dying was also significantly higher – 13 times higher – for unvaccinated residents compared to residents who were fully vaccinated.

  Given lower hospital admissions and the effectiveness of the vaccines in reducing severe illness, changes have been made in the Health Officer Order that allow establishments, businesses, or venues two options for removing masking requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.

Option 1: Starting this Friday, establishments, businesses, or venues that want to allow fully vaccinated customers and workers to unmask while indoors must:

Verify that 100% of customers (5 and older) and workers prior to, or upon, entry to indoor spaces:

Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or 

Provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 viral test result.  Tests for customers must be taken within two days of entry if a PCR test, or one day if an antigen test.  Employees will be allowed to submit a negative test result every three days. 

Those who are not fully vaccinated or do not show proof of vaccination, are required to provide a negative test, and continue wearing a well-fitting mask while indoors (as required by the state), except when actively eating or drinking.

Option 2: Starting this Friday, establishments, businesses, or venues that want to allow their fully vaccinated customers to unmask indoors while all onsite workers remain masked, must:  

Verify that 100% of customers (5 and older) prior to, or upon, entry to indoor spaces

Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, or

Provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 viral test result.  Tests for customers must have been taken within two days of entry if a PCR test or one day if an antigen test.

Adhere to the following regarding customers and masking:

Fully vaccinated customers may be unmasked in the indoor setting.

Customers that are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a well-fitting mask while indoors (as required by the state), except when actively eating or drinking.

Any individual showing proof of full vaccination prior to entering can still choose to wear a mask indoors. 

“Our hearts remain with those families experiencing the sorrow of losing those they love to COVID-19.” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “While there are powerful tools that impede virus transmission, none are perfect which is why we often need to use a variety of safety measures to reduce transmission.  When transmission is very high, we need to create the most complete shield we can so that’s why it’s important that we layer in all the protections at hand. As transmission drops and there is less virus circulating, some tools may afford significant protections against the very worst risks associated with COVID.  Because vaccines are one of these tools, with lower rates of hospital admissions and COVID hospitalizations, it is appropriate in settings verifying vaccination or negative test status, that we transition to strongly recommending masking instead of requiring masking.”    

Yesterday, Public Health confirmed 36 additional deaths and 1,934 new cases of COVID-19. Of the 36 new deaths reported today, five people were between the ages of 30-49, four were between the ages of 50-64, 12 were between the ages of 65-79, and 13 were aged 80 years or older. Of the 36 newly reported deaths, 33 had underlying health conditions.  Information on the two deaths reported by the City of Long Beach is available at www.LongBeach.gov. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 30,447.

Public Health has reported a total of 2,787,359 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. Today’s positivity rate is 2.3%.

There are 1,204 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 11,375,100 individuals, with 22% of people testing positive.

Submitted by Public Health