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LA County Supervisor urges Newsom to lift state mask order

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement suggesting that vaccinated people can forgo masks outside and inside caught many off guard this week and sparked much debate, especially at the local level.

In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger spoke out in favor of dropping masks for those vaccinated, breaking ranks with county public health officials. She called on the governor to follow relaxed guidelines set by federal officials.

“Los Angeles County has made tremendous strides in immunizing residents, including those in our hard-hit communities,” Barger said in a statement. “In addition, our positivity rate is less than 1% and our case rate remains low.”

This week’s advice from the CDC was seen as a watershed moment in the COVID-19 pandemic, but the final call on regulations and deadlines for masks will largely be decided by state and local governments.

This will include setting more specific rules in places such as businesses, schools and other settings where it may be difficult to determine who is or is not vaccinated.

Barger said LA County cannot relax its restrictions until the state does. She said the county is committed to “implementing safe and sensible guidelines that still protect our recovery and prevent regression to high positive case rates.”

Today, California maintains strict mask rules in accordance with previous CDC guidelines, and officials said they would remain in effect at least while they study the new recommendations.

LA State and County will review the CDC’s recommendations to “make sensitive adjustments to the orders currently in effect,” LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said.

It may take a week or more for substantial changes to mask wearing orders to take effect locally. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health board, which sets standards for workplace safety, meets Thursday to discuss statewide guidance, and any county change cannot be less restrictive than state mandates.

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