LA County out of COVID winter surge, indoor mask mandate could be lifted by mid-March

The COVID-19 pandemic could be coming to an end. On Thursday, LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the winter surge, fueled by the omicron variant, has ended in LA County. 

Hospitalizations and daily positive case rates have decreased significantly; however, the daily death toll remains slightly high.   

Another 3,312 new COVID cases were reported by the county on Thursday, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 2,772,569. The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 2.9%. On Wednesday, the county's COVID death toll surpassed the 30,000 mark. The 67 new fatalities reported Thursday boosted that total to 30,146.

Daily hospitalizations fell below 2,500 for seven consecutive days, resulting in the county lifting their outdoor mask mandate.

If case rates continue to decline and stay low for seven consecutive days, the county will then lift its indoor mask mandate.  During a press conference Thursday, Ferrer said the indoor mask mandate could be lifted by mid to late March. 

RELATED: Los Angeles County outdoor mask mandate to be lifted at midnight, including at schools

LA County's COVID deaths pass 30,000

The state’s indoor mask mandate expired February 15. Majority of counties in California followed suit, except for Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties. 

On Thursday, Gov. Newsom unveiled the state’s next phase in its COVID-19 response. He noted that the state is shifting from a pandemic to an endemic, meaning people will learn to live with the virus for years to come and potentially forever.  

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"We are moving past the crisis phase into a phase where we will work to live with this virus, and we will maintain a readiness posture and stay on top of the nature of change that is so self-evident with this pandemic and disease," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference in Fontana. 

"We are moving ... away from a more control construct of mandates to one where we create the conditions and an environment where we are not reacting but we are maintaining a posture where we are staying on top of the mutations ... and making sure that we are communicating more effectively." 

RELATED: SMARTER: California announces plan to deal with COVID for the long haul

The state's "SMARTER" plan continues to emphasize the importance of vaccinations and testing, along with continued education about the virus, communication with residents about conditions as they change and vigilance for new variants that could potentially emerge and lead to new surges.

The SMARTER plan is broken down into seven key areas: shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education, Rx. 

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