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California’s COVID mask rules ease in healthcare settings

The continued removal of COVID-19 emergency declarations has resulted in a series of changes to Los Angeles County’s pandemic guidance, including when to wear a mask, quarantine or quarantine, as well as reports of new infections and outbreaks.

Most importantly – the relaxation of government-issued mask-wearing orders for patients and visitors in healthcare facilities – went into effect Monday in LA County. In another California districtOrders for masks for doctors and nurses have also expired.

The adjustments are the latest reflection of a broad new phase of the pandemic, one characterized by individual risk assessment and targeted intervention rather than sweeping measures or restrictions.

“With the cancellation many urgent orders In recent weeks, many questions have arisen about what reasonable safeguards are still important to consider,” said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “Given risks that vary both by context and by individual characteristics, the goals of minimizing disruption and caring for the most vulnerable remain important.”

Here’s a look at the latest rules:

What are the new masking rules in healthcare settings?

State health officials on Monday up general order of masks for everyone in a healthcare setting. Hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other facilities may choose to keep their own requests.

Some districts like Orange County, will be allowed to wear masks when the state allows it. Others are opting for stricter rules.

IN Los Angeles County And San Francisco, Health officials have lifted the order to wear masks for patients and visitors. But the new local orders will still require doctors, nurses and other staff to wear masks while caring for patients or working in patient areas in places like hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities and dialysis centers.

Other staff members, such as janitors, security guards, secretaries, and volunteers working in patient care areas, as well as those temporarily entering healthcare facilities, such as For example, firefighters, emergency medical technicians are still required to wear masks in LA and San Francisco counties, and police officers.

Long Beach And Pasadena, which has its own public health department, is following LA County’s mask policy for healthcare facilities. LA County’s mask policy will be reevaluated in September.

Alameda District And Contra Costa County has withheld orders for masks for staff at skilled nursing facilities. Berkeley, has its own public health department, consistent with Alameda County.

Santa Clara County lifted local mask orders for all people in healthcare facilities on Tuesday, but will re-enforce orders next fall during “a period when the winter respiratory virus is indicated.” fixed” annually – defined as November 1 to March 31.

How have mask orders changed for shelters and prisons?

California has run out of masks order for all in shelters and state and local prisons and prisons when levels of COVID-19 in the community are moderate or high. All California counties have been at multi-week lows Community-level COVID-19A category designated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the coronavirus does not spread quickly nor place undue strain on health care systems.

San Francisco, however, has extended the mask-wearing order for staff in county prison facilities and juvenile camps where people are held.

How long do I need to stay home if I have COVID-19?

LA County on March 13 released instruct that people infected with coronavirus should stay home for at least five days after they test positive or experience the first symptoms of COVID-19.

Ferrer said they can leave home after Day 5 if the fever is gone without medication for 24 hours and their symptoms are gone or are mild and improving.

That guidance, like the one issued by the state of California, is advice — not an official health order. However, LA County still has the authority to issue an individual quarantine order.

The new guidelines are a notable relaxation of LA County’s previous order, which requires residents to quarantine for 10 days but allow people to leave after Day 5 if they test negative.

However, county health officials still recommend that infected people test negative between Days 5 and 10 if they wish to isolate during that time.

“This will reduce chance of infection another person has COVID,” Ferrer said.

Infected people still need to wear masks when recovering?

For the general public, LA County has ended the requirement that people with coronavirus wear face masks around other people for 10 days after testing positive or starting to develop symptoms. Now, that masking period is a strong recommendation, unless an individual has tested negative on consecutive tests taken at least one day apart.

But there are stricter mask-wearing rules for infected employees returning to the workplace. The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA, says employees Right Wear a mask around other people for 10 days.

That request will also applies to teacherswho are bound by Cal/OSHA regulations.

On the other hand, the relaxed county rules mean recovering infected students Masks are no longer required at school when children can return to class — although LA County recommends that students wear masks during the 10-day period.

What should people do if they have been in contact with an infected person?

LA County has lifted the requirement that people exposed to the coronavirus wear a facemask that fits others for 10 days in an indoor setting or when around people at high risk for serious illness. However, as with More mask tutorialsThe county still recommends doing so.

People who have been exposed Ferrer said that for coronavirus should consider testing as soon as possible. If negative, they should have a follow-up test three to five days after exposure.

In smaller enclosed environments — such as homes, clinics, waiting rooms, and airplanes — people are considered exposed with coronavirus if they share airspace with an infected person for 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period.

In larger indoor locations — locations larger than 400,000 cubic feet per floor, such as warehouses, large retail stores, open-plan offices, factories, and food processing facilities products — exposure is defined as being within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period when they are contagious.

Is the workplace required to notify employees of a workplace incident?

Correct. Cal/OSHA require workplace to notify employees of coronavirus cases in the workplace and provide free testing to employees who have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

Are schools required to tell students and parents that students have been exposed?

Are not. LA County really recommends — but not required – that schools notify students and their parents when students come into contact with someone with coronavirus while that person is contagious.

What are the current general mask recommendations?

LA County end its recommendation to universalize masks in indoor public facilities by the end of January. For the public, the decision should be based on personal preference, Ferrer said.

“People who are elderly, immunocompromised, have underlying health conditions or have a lot of exposure should consider wearing a mask in public indoor spaces,” she said. “Wearing a mask is also recommended for those who have regular or planned contact with a vulnerable person.”

As masks became less common, some people questioned or mocked those who continued to wear them. Ferrer said that was inappropriate.

There can be many reasons people choose to wear a maskSuch as illness, the immune system is compromised and there are vulnerable family members, she said.

“We can only be someone who wants to be extremely careful,” Ferrer said.

Do COVID outbreaks still need to be reported to the county?

Correct. Businesses and facilities in LA County should report clusters of coronavirus cases to the county Public Health Department within 24 hours.

Workplaces, shelters, and educational establishments are required to report three or more related coronavirus cases that occurred within 14 days or when 5% of employees or residents tested positive at the facility. establishments with 100 or more employees or residents.

A linked case refers to people present in the same environment during the same period of infection.

Healthcare facilities are required to file reports when there are two or more related coronavirus cases among patients four days or more after admission or there have been three or more related cases during number of employees in 14 days.

And skilled nursing and community care facilities must notify the county when there are one or more residences or three associations between employees in 14 days.

Are outbreaks still happening?

Correct. As of Wednesday, LA County health officials are investigating 126 outbreaks, most of which are in skilled nursing facilities.

How is reporting data changing?

LA County stopped everyday reports coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths and will instead release those figures weekly, on Thursdays — the same day as the California Department of Public Health.

However, the county could move to more frequent reporting if pandemic trends change, Ferrer said.

Data reporting typically becomes less frequent as the COVID-19 emergency ends. Johns Hopkins University is closed praised COVID-19 data tracking effort last month. The Los Angeles Times is working to simplify its own COVID-19 tracker and is reader input search about what that resource should look like.

What do wastewater data show?

Officials note that the cases tally does not provide a complete picture of how the pandemic has played out, as many infections are detected using home tests and go unreported. to local health departments.

wastewater monitoring can help fill those gaps. Data from LA County wastewater treatment plants shows coronavirus levels falling to “low concern,” significantly down from the peak recorded in late fall. For the most recent week’s available data, coronavirus levels in wastewater at the county’s largest wastewater treatment plants were 21% from fall and winter peaks.

Graph showing how coronavirus levels in LA County wastewater have decreased since late fall.

Coronavirus levels in LA County wastewater have been declining since the fall peak.

(Los Angeles County Department of Public Health)

However, the data shows that there are frequent fluctuations in the level of coronavirus in wastewater, according to Ferrer.

“These are likely to continue for the foreseeable future as they reflect the fact that COVID-19 continues to spread among people who live, work, and visit LA County,” she said.

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