LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County's Public Health Director on Thursday set the criteria the county needs to meet in order to drop its outdoor mask mandate at mega-events and outside on school grounds.
Facing questions about when COVID-19 mask-wearing requirements might be dropped, Dr. Barbara Ferrer said the county will consider itself out of the current COVID-19 surge when virus-related hospitalizations fall below 2,500 for seven straight days. Once that mark is reached, the county will no longer require masks at outdoor mega-events, such as football games, or in outdoor spaces at schools and child-care facilities.
As of Thursday, there are still 3,398 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals.
The county's outdoor mask mandate has been under fire this past week after pictures of maskless celebrities and government officials at SoFi Stadium went viral following Sunday's NFC Championship Game.
Many people have been calling for Los Angeles County to align with the state's requirements, which states that you don't have to wear masks outdoors. Currently, Los Angeles County still requires masks at outdoor events with more than 500 people.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger wants to end that requirement, and she spoke with us about it on our FOX 11 special report.
Barger also sent an official letter to LA County Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer Tuesday night, asking to end the outdoor mask mandate. She also wants the county to align with state rules and no longer require outdoor masking for schools. At this time, there has not been a response from Ferrer.
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Earlier this week, Barger urged county officials to re-evaluate the county's COVID-19 mask policy, noting that they "don’t make a difference when they’re not consistently followed or enforced."
"Masking rules set by the state and county weren’t followed consistently by everyone at yesterday’s NFC Championship," Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement Monday. "Instead, we saw individuals choosing to mask up based on calculated personal risk. Modern stadiums like SoFi Stadium have strong air circulation and all attendees of the game were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. Some fans evidently felt this was enough to protect them against COVID-19."
Barger said she believes that individuals should be allowed to make an informed choice about whether to mask up or not.
"We need to trust the public to make the best personal decisions for themselves based on their unique risks and circumstances," she said.
Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were facing criticism Monday after photographs surfaced of them during the Los Angeles Rams game Sunday at SoFi Stadium, without the required masks.
Newsom addressed the criticism during a press conference Monday, saying that he only removed the mask for the photograph.
"The rest of the time I wore it, as we all should," Newsom said regarding the mask.
Meanwhile, Garcetti on Wednesday offered an explanation to the now-viral images: He was holding his breath.
"I wore my mask the entire game and when people ask for a photograph I hold my breath and put it [mask] here and people can see it. There’s a 0% chance of infection from that," Garcetti said during a press conference at SoFi Stadium Wednesday.
The county reported another 96 COVID-19 fatalities on Thursday, as well as 11,548 new infections, which Ferrer noted is about one-fourth of the number of nearly 46,000 reported a few weeks ago at the height of the winter infection surge.
The rate of people testing positive for the virus was 7.9% on Thursday, down from 8.8% on Wednesday and well below the 20% rate of a month ago.
According to state figures, there were 3,398 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals as of Thursday, down from 3,515 on Wednesday. The number of patients in intensive care fell to 670, down from 699 a day earlier.
Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.
CNS contributed to this report.