LA drops mask mandate; NFL drops COVID-19 protocols

Young adults dining indoors without masks
Young adults dining indoors without masks

millann / iStock

Los Angeles County residents will no longer be required to wear masks at restaurants, bars, gyms, shops, and other businesses starting today, the Associated Press reports, while the National Football League (NFL) has dropped all COVID-19 measures.

The largest county in California now has transmission rates low enough to drop the mandate, public health director Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, said. Ferrer did say Angelenos who want an extra layer of protection can still wear well-fitted masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) updated COVID-19 Community Levels data show that, as of yesterday, 90% of Americans are in areas with low or medium levels of COVID-19. Going forward, the data will be updated weekly on Thursdays.

The United States reported 52,292 new COVID-9 cases yesterday and 1,743 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The 7-day average of new daily cases is 52,256, with 1,689 daily deaths, according to the Washington Post tracker.

NFL suspends COVID-19 protocols

The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have agreed to suspend all COVID-19 protocols going into the 2022 season, NPR reports. 

"Based on current encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law, and the counsel of our respective experts, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to suspend all aspects of the joint COVID-19 Protocols," the NFL said in a memo.

Though no NFL games were forfeited because of COVID-19 protocols, the league saw plenty of controversy over the past 2 years as players—some vocally—refused to get vaccinated against the virus.

According to a new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, American adults who are vaccinated but have not received a booster dose are more likely to believe vaccine misinformation and have reservations about vaccinating children ages 5 to 11.

Seven percent of fully vaccinated and boosted adults said they would not vaccinate young children, compared with 37% who were vaccinated but not boosted, and 85% of those who remain unvaccinated themselves.

The CDC COVID Data Tracker shows that 65% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 76.4% have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 43.9% of fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose.

Asia continues to report Omicron surges

Among countries reporting late Omicron variant surges, South Korea today reported a new single-day high of 266,853 cases, along with 186 more deaths, according to Reuters. Today's total is up sharply from about 240,000 cases reported yesterday. Earlier this week, Korean health officials said they expect cases to peak in the middle of March.

In Hong Kong, health officials reported 52,523 new cases, slightly lower than yesterday's daily record. The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) also posted a statement reassuring people that the supply of medications for treating symptoms is stable, that authorities are procuring more supplies, and that people shouldn't stockpile the items.

Meanwhile, New Zealand reported 22,527 new cases, slightly lower than yesterday. Health officials are reporting staff shortages, with some city offices and industries also reporting major staff outages, according to Radio New Zealand.

CIDRAP News Editor Lisa Schnirring contributed to this story.

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