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County Relaxes Coronavirus Guidelines

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By Jorge Casuso

March 10, 2023 -- Coronavirus cases in Santa Monica and LA County continued dropping as Public Health officials announced Monday the County will relax its guidelines to align with the State.

Masking for the general public is based on individual preference, and starting April 3, the County will rescind vaccination orders for workers at correctional, detention and adult care facilities.

Starting Monday, a negative COVID-19 test no longer is required for those who have tested positive to leave isolation after 5 days and those who come in close contact with an infected person are not required to wear a face mask for 10 days.

Public Health will continue "enhanced protective measures in healthcare settings" that include requiring healthcare workers "to be vaccinated and boosted and wear a mask during patient care or working in patient care areas."

That requirement will be re-assessed by the end of September, Health officials said.

"The Department of Public Health will continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 and to protect the county’s most vulnerable residents by continuing to require robust COVID-19 case and cluster reporting by worksites, schools, and healthcare facilities to the Department of Public Health," officials said Friday.

"The ongoing case and cluster reporting requirements are intended to help Public Health officials quickly identify sectors where there may be increased COVID-19 transmissions and take action to prevent unmitigated spread."

The announcement comes 10 days after the coronavirus emergency declared by the State, County and City three years ago quietly terminated on February 28 at 11:59 p.m. ("Health State of Emergency Ended With Little Fanfare," March 3, 2023).

The landmark moment came without an official announcement that the most far reaching and longest lasting health emergency of modern times had ended.

Media was slow to pick up on Friday's announcement, reflecting a general sense that the pandemic that led to a seemingly unending series of mandates has largely waned.

For the eighth consecutive week, the County of more than 10 million residents remained in the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Low COVID-19 Community Level.

The seven-day case rate declined to 57 new cases per 100,000 people, while hospital admissions dipped to 5.9 per 100,000. Staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients also decreased to 3.7 percent.

In Santa Monica, there have been some 200 coronavirus cases reported over the past month and one virus-related death, according to County Health data.

That brings the total number of cases reported in the city of some 93,000 to 26,163 and the number of related deaths to 295.

Countywide to date, there have been 3,714,353 confirmed cases and 35,814 virus-related deaths, Health data show. There are 604 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized.

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