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Outlining how health and safety rules could be loosened as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to wane, Los Angeles County officials said Thursday that face coverings no longer will be required in certain outdoor settings once COVID-19 hospitalizations drop, and indoor mask rules could be loosened after further gains.

The county would enter this “post-surge” phase when coronavirus-positive hospitalizations drop below 2,500 for seven straight days, about 26% below the current figure. As of Wednesday, just under 3,400 coronavirus-positive patients were hospitalized countywide — though the number has dropped significantly in recent days and is down 29% from the apparent high mark of the Omicron wave, set a little more than two weeks ago, when about 4,800 were hospitalized.

It’s unlikely L.A. County will reach that goal in time for the Feb. 13 Super Bowl, but it could come relatively soon after. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the benchmark was developed in consultation with hospitals in the county, which agreed that hospitals could return to most of their customary operations with 2,500 or fewer coronavirus-positive patients.

After hitting this trigger, health officials would lift mask requirements at outdoor “mega” events with at least 5,000 attendees — such as those at the Hollywood Bowl and Dodger, SoFi and Los Angeles Memorial stadiums — as well as outdoor spaces at child-care settings and K-12 schools.

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