Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Public Health Update: Masks Now Just “Strongly Recommended” on Public Transit, Up to Personal Preference in Most Other Indoor Spaces

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer giving her weekly COVID-19 update yesterday.


As of today, for the first time in more than two and a half years, face masks are no longer required on LA County public transit (though they are still “strongly recommended”).  LA County Public Health Director announced in her weekly COVID-19 update yesterday that because our COVID-19 7-day cumulative case rate has fallen below 100 cases per 100,000 residents, the transit mask requirement is now lifted on buses, trains, and other public conveyances…and instead of being strongly recommended in other indoor spaces such as schools and workplaces, masks will now just be a matter of personal preference (though individual businesses and other venues are still allowed to set stricter rules if they choose to do so).

As has been the case since late July, new cases of COVID-19 in LA County continued to fall over the last week. We are now averaging about 1,400 cases per day, Ferrer said, down from about 1,700 a month ago.  Hospitalizations also continue to fall, and deaths have remained stable at about 11-14 per day.



These numbers keep us firmly lodged in the CDC-defined “low” community tier for the fourth week in a row, Ferrer reported, and our falling case rate now meets the threshold for removing the transit mask requirement.



And it’s not just transit rules that are relaxing…though others do remain.  For example, masking is still required in health care and long-term care facilities, and in any place where it’s the stated policy of a business, venue or agency (all of which are allowed to set stricter making policies than those currently followed by LA County).  Also, people are still required to wear masks for 10 days after the onset of any COVID-19 symptoms, or a positive COVID-19 test, or for ten days after exposure to someone with COVID-19.

But masking is now just a matter of individual preference at correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and all other indoor public settings, businesses, and government offices.



Ferrer explained that these rules will remain in place as long as our weekly case rate remains below 100 per 100,000 residents.  If case rates rise again, the rules would change, too.  Masks would required on public transit again if our case rate rises above 100 per 100,000 residents, and would be required in other situations if we rise into the medium and/or high community levels, again, as shown below.



Ferrer also reported that the virus variants currently circulating in LA county, 100% of which are variants of the Omicron strain, have not changed much in the last week.  The BA.5 subvariant now accounts for 92.8% of all local cases (up just barely from last week’s 92.75), with the BA.4.6 variant in second place with just 3.2% of local cases (up from 2.7% the previous week).  Ferrer noted, however, that the new bivalent booster shots should provide increased protection agains both of these strains.



Also, anticipating questions about whether many people still feel a need to wear masks at all, Ferrer presented results from the third wave of a local pandemic surveillance study, conducted in June, in which 74% of respondents said they were still wearing a mask in the presence of others.



Also, Ferrer reported, 64% of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that people who are fully vaccinated and boosted should still wear a mask in crowded indoor settings, while 85% agreed that wearing a mask in public reduces the rist of COVID-19 infection, even for those who are vaccinated and boosted…and 54% said they often or always wear masks when leaving home.



73% of survey respondents also agreed or strongly agreed that people who test positive for COVID-19 should stay home for at least five days, Ferrer said, even if they are unsymptomatic…and 81% said they themselves would follow public health quarantine guidelines if they had a COVID-19 infection.



Ferrer said these results show that most LA County residents are still willing to take precautions to protect others, even at this late stage of the pandemic.

Finally in yesterday’s address, Ferrer also reported that bivalent vaccines for children ages 5-15 may be available by early or mid-October.  These will be used only as boosters after a child has received their primary vaccine series, and the new shots will be the only kind of boosters available.





In other (good) news at yesterday’s Public Health briefing, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the LA County Disease Control Bureau Dr. Rita Singhal reported that LA County has now reported a cumulative total of 1,937 monkeypox cases, which is the largest of any county in California…while California has reported more cases than any other state in the U.S, which has more cases than any other country in the world.  (The global cumulative total is now 64,290 cases.)  As has been previously reported, Singhal said, 97% of all cases have been in men, and 95% in members of the LGBTQ community.

Cumulative numbers aside, however, Singhal also reported that the number of new cases locally is now showing “a fairly clear downward curve,” which began the week of August 25, and is still going.


Vaccination efforts by the county are continuing, Singhal also reported, with more than 62,000 doses now administered, and more than 100 vaccination sites open around the county.  And as she also reported last week, children ages 12-17 can now get vaccinated without parental permission (though children under age 12 do need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian).


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }