The City of Long Beach will keep current masking policies, in alignment with Los Angeles County, but announces a roadmap is in place for easing restrictions when it is safer to do so.
Long Beach, CA – On Feb. 7, The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that effective Feb. 16, it will roll back policies that had been put into place during the Omicron surge, which is now on the wane in the state. The City of Long Beach is aligning with Los Angeles County by keeping current masking policies in place, with a roadmap that allows for easing restrictions as soon as it is safer to do so.
In Long Beach, the daily case rate remains high at 105.5 per 100,000 and the positivity rate is 14.9%. The cumulative seven-day rate is 296 per 100,000. These indicators meet the CDC’s definition of “high transmission” – a cumulative seven-day rate of 100 or more cases per 100,000 residents or a positivity rate of 10% or higher. Currently,128 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and the City continues to see deaths almost every day.
The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) is looking at post-surge updates to its masking mandates and setting benchmarks for the relaxation of these mandates. It also is updating thresholds for mega events to align with State thresholds.
Masking: Once one of those criteria are met, and if there are no emerging reports of significantly circulating new variants of concern that threaten vaccine effectiveness, the City will then be aligned with the State and fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a facial covering indoors except in the following settings:
- On public transit, including airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, buses, taxis and ride-shares) and in transportation hubs (examples: airports, bus terminals, marinas, train stations, seaports or other ports, or any other area that provides transportation)
- Indoors in K-12 schools and childcare facilities
- At emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers
- In healthcare settings
- At correctional facilities and detention centers
- In homeless shelters
- At long term care settings and adult and senior care facilities
Facial coverings will continue to be required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses, including but not limited to restaurants, retail establishments and family entertainment centers.
Surgical masks or higher-level respirators, including N95s, KN95s and KF94s, with good fit are recommended in all settings where masking is required.
When COVID-19 in Long Beach cases fall into the CDC’s low transmission category – no more than a cumulative seven-day average of 10 cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate below 5% – mask requirements could be further lifted.
Indoor mega events: The definition of indoor mega events will revert from crowds numbering 500 people to the earlier threshold of 5,000. The policies for indoor mega events will not change: Operators must verify the full vaccination status or pre-entry negative COVID-19 viral test result of all attendees. Face coverings will continue to be required for all attendees until the City meets the moderate transmission criteria outlined by the CDC.
Outdoor mega events: The definition of outdoor mega events will revert from crowds numbering 5,000 people to the earlier threshold of 10,000. When hospitalizations in Los Angeles County reach 2,500 or lower for seven consecutive days, face coverings will no longer be required at these events. Other policies for outdoor mega events will not change: Operators are required to verify the full vaccination status or pre-entry negative COVID-19 viral testing for all attendees.
Data show that tightening masking mandates and reducing mega event thresholds were helpful in containing the surge. Other contributing factors included an increase in vaccinations and boosters and the public’s willingness to get tested and isolate or quarantine as necessary. New daily cases peaked at 3,070 on Jan. 13 and have been steadily falling for the past three weeks.
“We have learned a lot since the virus first emerged in Long Beach in March of 2020,” said City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis. “The Omicron surge necessitated stricter guidelines for mega events and masking, but even though it was our largest surge to date, we were able to weather it, in large part because people were vaccinated, boosted and wore their face coverings. As we move into year three of the pandemic, we will continue to do everything we can to maintain normality while protecting lives.”
Among the lessons learned from the pandemic is the importance of vaccinations. Since the start of the Omicron surge, people who do not have up-to-date vaccines have 6.9 times higher rates of hospitalization and 7.2 times higher death rates compared to those who are up to date. Vaccines are available to everyone 5 years old and older, and boosters are available to those 12 years old and older. Vaccines are offered for free through the Long Beach Health Department six days per week; the schedule is posted at longbeach.gov/vaxlb.
It also is important to get tested when in close contact with anyone who has, or is suspected to have, COVID-19 when exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms. Masking up in crowded or less ventilated places and staying home when sick also can keep the virus from spreading.
For the latest information on COVID-19, with details on all that the City of Long Beach is doing to keep our residents safe, visit longbeach.gov/COVID19 and follow @LBHealthDept on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. People may also visit longbeach.gov/COVID19data for up-to-date information regarding cases and vaccines.