New health order details masking requirements

Officials with the state and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Thursday that face coverings would be required indoors until at least Nov. 1. Signal file photo

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department provided details Friday on modifications to its COVID-19 public health order following an announcement Thursday that masks would be required at all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings and businesses for all individuals regardless of vaccination status effective at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. 

The new order recommends wearing a protective face covering at indoor public and private settings, including in the workplace. 

Exceptions can be made, according to the county health order, for people “performing specific tasks which cannot feasibly be performed while wearing a mask.”  

In these cases, employees can only remove their mask while the task is being performed and would need to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week unless the employer has proof of full vaccination or proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the last 90 days. 

The county’s order does preempt Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards, which the new order calls “more permissive” compared to the latest requirements issued by the county. 

Mega events are also impacted by the new order. Masks are required at indoor mega events, which are defined as having a large crowd greater than 5,000 people. 

At outdoor mega events, which are settings of 10,000 people or more, masks are required while in an indoor setting, and “in areas where 50% of the structure has adjacent impermeable walls, such as concourses and concession stands.” 

The new health order points to “continued evidence of sustained and substantial community transmission of COVID-19 within the county” and “the increasing presence of more infectious variants of the virus” to justify the return of a mask requirement. 

“Increased interactions among members of the public has resulted in an increased number of daily new cases and rapidly increased seven-day average daily case rate of 7.1 per 100,000 people with a seven-day lag, indicating substantial community transmission, in the absence of capacity limits and physical distancing requirements across sectors in both indoor and outdoor settings,” the order states. 

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued a prepared statement Friday saying the new order “will not “help our efforts to stress the efficacy of the vaccines and compel unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated.”  

“As I have expressed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County should align with the state of California on all health officer orders that impact residents, businesses and local organizations,” she said. “I wish that the Department of Public Health had provided its proposed masking guidance during the July 13 Board of Supervisors meeting so that the public could have had the opportunity to listen to the decision-making process.” 

Barger said the new order creates “confusion and disagreement at the local level” as a result of deviating from the state. Encouraging people to get vaccinated as the county faces the spread of the Delta variant should be county’s primary message, she said. 

Latest SCV, county data 

Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Friday: 

Countywide COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours: 1,902 

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,264,450 

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 6 

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 24,568 

Hospitalizations countywide: 452 

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of July 16: 12, with 1,272 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.   

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 55, 34 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita. 

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 28,678 

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of July 15: 307 

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