L.A. County health officials say fully vaccinated residents don’t need to wear masks outside, except in crowded settings

Local news
People with appointments walk in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site at Lincoln Park amid eased lockdown restrictions on January 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

People with appointments walk in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site at Lincoln Park amid eased lockdown restrictions on January 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Los Angeles County residents who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are now safe to walk around outside without a mask, health officials said Thursday.

“Fully vaccinated people are safe to do outdoor activities like dining outdoors with friends from multiple households, attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and going out to take a walk or ride a bike,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a news briefing Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors unless they are in certain crowded settings. California health officials followed suit and aligned state guidelines with the CDC.

However, Ferrer cautioned that more than 50% of L.A. County residents are not yet fully vaccinated and that the current health order still requires both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in crowded areas where social distancing is not possible. The same applies in indoor situations where unvaccinated people may be present.

“So many of us need to continue wearing our masks all of the time when we’re outdoors, and all of the time when we’re indoors with people who aren’t in our household,” Ferrer said. “There still is quite a high amount of risk for people if they’re in crowded spaces when they’re not vaccinated. And unvaccinated people always are going to be at much higher risk when they are in fact exposed to the virus.”

To date, more than 7.2 million doses have been administered to residents across L.A. County. Roughly 32% of residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated, according to county data. Of those 65 and older, about 60% have been fully vaccinated and 75% have received at least one dose. 

Health officials said that many beach communities and areas in the west side have been seeing vaccination rates upward of 60%. Meanwhile, the Antelope Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and some parts of East and South L.A. are seeing vaccination rates below 30%.

“High vaccination rates in many of our well-resourced communities reflect the part the advantages people may have with transportation, time, computer and internet access and work restrictions are not barriers to getting vaccinated,” Ferrer said.

She also noted that many vaccination sites have recently seen a drop in appointments and encouraged people to get vaccinated.

“I do know that across the county this past week we saw much fewer people coming in to get vaccinated,” Ferrer said. “For the first time ever, we’ve had appointments at many vaccination sites that have not been filled.”

Ferrer said that the county plans to find ways to make it as easy as possible for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She said this might include plans to “bring the vaccine close to where you already are at — if you’re at a shopping center; if you’re at a church or a mosque; if you’re at a school.”

“I do know that across the county this past week we saw much fewer people coming in to get vaccinated,” Ferrer said. “For the first time ever, we’ve had appointments at many vaccination sites that have not been filled.”

Ferrer said that the county plans to find ways to make it as easy as possible for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She said this might include plans to “bring the vaccine close to where you already are at — if you’re at a shopping center; if you’re at a church or a mosque; if you’re at a school.”

“Vaccination is an incredible tool for having fun without fear,” Ferrer said. “When you’re vaccinated, you can take that yoga class outside unmasked and relaxed. … When you and your friends are vaccinated, you can have parties and hang out together, celebrating milestones like graduations and birthdays, without fuss and without anxiety.”

On Thursday, L.A. County reported 416 new cases and 42 new deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,232,727 cases and 23,872 deaths.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Most Popular

Latest News

More News