Associated Press

Los Angeles County is set to lift its indoor mask mandate this week as coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations plummet, the county’s top health official said Tuesday.

Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said California’s most populous county would likely issue a revised health order that would take effect Friday and align with state guidelines unveiled Monday.

Ferrer told the county’s Board of Supervisors that based on new state rules it would still be recommended — but not required — for vaccinated and unvaccinated residents to wear face coverings in public indoor settings.

Ferrer last month predicted that the county’s mask mandate could remain in place through March.

The new approach came days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would begin focusing its measures based more on what’s happening at hospitals than on test results.

The CDC said that more than 70% of Americans live in places where the coronavirus poses a low or medium threat to hospitals and therefore can stop wearing masks in most indoor places.

Ferrer also announced plans to ease some of Los Angeles County’s rules requiring proof of vaccination at outdoor mega events, such as at stadiums, and indoors at bars, lounges and nightclubs.

Vaccination verification or a recent negative test will still be required at indoor mega events, under state rules. Vaccination proof is also required for healthcare workers and employees of nursing homes.

California earlier this month became the first state to formally shift to an endemic approach to the coronavirus with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of a plan that emphasizes prevention and quick reaction to outbreaks over mask mandates and business shutdowns.