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L.A. County extends mask mandate for public transit

With COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates climbing in Los Angeles County, officials announced Friday that the mask mandate will be extended for all public transit and indoor transportation hubs in the county.

Initially set to expire soon, L.A. County’s health officer order will continue to require masks for everyone aged 2 and older at places like airports, bus terminals, train and subway stations, and on trains, subway rails, buses, taxis and ride-shares.

The county first issued the order in April after a federal judge overturned a the nationwide mask mandate for public transport.

“Traveling on public transportation increases a person’s risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by bringing people in close contact with others, often for prolonged periods, in poorly ventilated spaces,” L.A. County Department of Public Health officials said.

It became clear that local officials would extend the public transportation mask requirement when L.A. County this week moved from “low” to “medium” COVID-19 risk level under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community rating system.

County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the move was “concerning” because it could mean that the infection increases may soon put pressure on health care resources.

She urged residents to follow masking rules and even consider wearing face coverings in all indoor public settings, including at schools, restaurants and movie theaters.

Besides public transit, masks are currently required in L.A. County at emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional detention facilities, homeless shelters and long term care facilities.

Masks are not required — but remain strongly recommended — for everyone aged 2 and older at all indoor public settings.

Health department officials said they will reassess the public transport masking requirement when either the COVID-19 community transmission level in L.A. County decreases to less than 50 weekly cases per 100,000 residents, or within 30 days, whichever comes first.

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