L.A. County is easing mask rules for vaccinated people

Josue Torres

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Los Angeles County is easing its mask-wearing order to encourage completely vaccinated residents to avoid wearing masks outside in uncrowded conditions, echoing recent CDC guidelines.

“Vaccinated people are safe to do outdoor activities like dining outdoors with friends from multiple households [and] attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people … without your mask on,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Thursday.

In uncrowded conditions when they are walking by another citizen on the roadway, fully vaccinated citizens may not need to wear masks, according to Ferrer.

“If you’re fully vaccinated and you’re going for a walk … there’s no need for you to mask up if you quickly walk by other people,” Ferrer stated.

And completely vaccinated citizens, though, should wear masks in such busy outdoor environments, such as a crowded promenade, boardwalk, live concert, or procession, according to Ferrer. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has advised completely vaccinated citizens to avoid wearing masks in busy outdoor environments such as arenas and concerts.

“If you’re walking down a crowded promenade; you’re on a boardwalk that’s super crowded; we do ask that you keep your mask on in those situations,” Ferrer added. “You’re not really going to be able to stay distanced from other people and may be around them for quite a bit of time, so there it would make sense to please keep your mask on.”

As part of the new L.A. County health officer order, everyone would also be forced to wear masks in busy outdoor conditions, according to Ferrer. According to her, the condition is also essential since more than half of the population in Los Angeles County are still not properly vaccinated.

Previously, L.A. County mandated that anyone carry a mask while in close proximity to others who may not live with them — both indoors or outside — including people passing by, unless anyone in the area was properly vaccinated or there were just unvaccinated individuals from one household during a case.

Unvaccinated or partly vaccinated individuals are also required to wear masks while in close proximity to those that might not be completely vaccinated.

Two weeks after having their second Pfizer or Moderna injection, or two weeks after receiving their Johnson & Johnson shot, people are deemed completely vaccinated.

Only persons 16 and over are entitled to be vaccinated in the United States, according to Ferrer, and as a consequence, some completely vaccinated adults with unvaccinated children will continue and wear masks to set a positive example for their children.

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“Children do need to be masked” while they are with others who do not reside with them, according to Ferrer, unless anyone else in a social community environment is considered to be properly vaccinated.

“For those of you who are parents or grandparents or when you’re out with your children, you may want to continue to still model wearing masks and appropriate mask-wearing behavior. So you may want to keep your mask on, even if you are fully vaccinated, when you are with your children,” Ferrer advised.

Officials in Hawaii reported the state’s first COVID-19 death in a child this week, a boy aged 10 or younger who had chronic health problems and was visiting Hawaii from another state with his parents.

“He experienced COVID-19 symptoms shortly after arriving in the islands and was taken to a hospital where he died. Both parents were fully vaccinated before making the trip to Hawaii,” said the Hawaii Department of Health in a statement.

Ferrer encouraged citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible. It has never been simpler to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine; stocks are already so plentiful that several vaccination locations are demanding less doses for the next week.

“We’ve seen a significant drop here in L.A. County with people getting vaccinated and it’s very worrisome,” Ferrer said. “This would not be the time to lose momentum on vaccination.”

This week, several vaccine centers also had appointment times that have gone unfilled. Vaccine appointments are down by at least 50% at L.A. County-run vaccination centers, according to Ferrer.

“We take a lot of walk-ins, so that makes up for some of it, but we’re still going to be down for this week,” Ferrer said.

The citizens dying from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County have “all not been vaccinated,” according to Ferrer. 

“We’re talking about 410 people in the hospital today. None of those people were vaccinated.”

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