UCLA will drop its indoor masking requirement Monday

UCLA will drop its indoor masking requirement Monday

UCLA will drop its indoor masking requirement Monday, with the exception of areas where face coverings are still mandated by county health officials, such as health care facilities and on public transportation, campus officials announced on Friday, Aug. 12.

The announcement came one day after Los Angeles County escaped the federal government’s “high” COVID-19 activity category, advancing to the “medium” level.

“As the pandemic evolves and the severity of illness seems to be waning, we are adjusting our campus protocols to better align with current public health conditions in line with the transitions that have already occurred at other academic institutions, and within the county and state,” according to a campuswide message sent Friday by Vice Chancellor Michael Beck and microbiology professor Megan McEvoy, co-chairs of the campus COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force.

Beginning Monday, masking will only be strongly recommended in indoor settings on the Westwood campus. Students will also no longer be required to fill out a daily symptom-monitoring survey. Students will instead be asked to self-assess their condition, and not come to campus if they are experiencing any symptoms.

Weekly testing by students and staff will no longer be required, but they can still test up to twice weekly through the campus vending machine system if they believe they’ve been exposed.

The university still requires all students and staff on campus to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination and boosters.

The county moved into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “medium” virus-activity category on Thursday, when the average daily rate of people being admitted to hospitals for COVID reasons fell —barely — below 10 per 100,000 residents. CDC figures put the county’s virus-related admission rate at 9.9 per 100,000 residents.

That was good enough to escape the “high” category, which the county entered in mid-July, raising the possibility of another indoor mask-wearing mandate. The county ultimately opted against the new mandate, citing steadily improving infection and hospitalization numbers.

Masks are still required in some settings, including health care facilities, homeless shelters, aboard transit vehicles and at transit centers, along with correctional facilities.

“While we are thankful to see our county move to the medium community level, because we know that getting infected causes disruptions at the workplace and in the family and for some, becoming infected leads to debilitating illness, we advise caution, and ongoing use of a sensible approach for reducing the risk of exposure and preventing severe illness,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Friday. “All tools available help: getting vaccinated and boosted reduces risk of severe illness, testing before and after gathering, wearing masks when indoors, and staying home and away from others when sick reduces transmission.”

The county on Friday reported 19 more COVID-related deaths, raising the overall death toll from throughout the pandemic to 32,922. Another 3,995 infections were also reported, giving the county a cumulative pandemic total of 3,351,082.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 11.1% as of Friday.

According to state figures, there were 1,065 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday, down from 1,098 on Thursday. Of those patients, 120 were being treated in intensive care, down from 125 on Thursday.

County officials have said that roughly 43% of the COVID-positive patients admitted to hospitals were actually admitted for virus-related illness, while the others were admitted for other reasons, with some only learning they were infected when they were tested at the hospital.

The number of new COVID infections reported each day by the county is also believed to be an undercount of actual virus activity, since many people use at-home tests, the results of which are not always reported to the county.

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