You Can Ditch Those Masks on L.A. Public Transit as COVID Cases Wane

People riding on public transit, including rideshare vehicles, are now free to unmask, but one driver pleads for further consideration

Starting Friday, masks are no longer required aboard Los Angeles County public transit, or while inside public transportation hubs, including airports.

Barbara Ferrer, the Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, made the announcement yesterday during her weekly media briefing, citing waning weekly COVID case rates, most recently reported to be just under 100 per 100,000 people—the metric which triggered relaxing mask mandates.

“Indoor masking requirements will remain unchanged for healthcare facilities and long-term care facilities as required by the state,” she explained. “Individual businesses, agencies, and locations may also set their own indoor masking policy, which people are required to follow.”

Although masks will no longer be required on public transit or in the hubs, the Department of Public Health is still “strongly recommending that everyone using public transit, including rideshare, wear a well-fitting, high filtration mask.”

Transit masking mandates will be reinstated, however, if case rates rise above 100 per 100,000 people and remain above that threshold for 14 days.

“You cannot just ignore the higher risk associated with public transit, especially for transit workers,” Ferrer said. “If case rates rise to indicate high transmission, layering in more protection to prevent spread is appropriate.”

To emphasize the importance of continued masking, even without a mandate, she shared a brief plea from an Uber driver, who caught the virus from a passenger en route to a pharmacy to pick up COVID medication, and ended up in the hospital weeks later during their own battle with the illness.

“Uber does not give sick pay,” the anonymous driver wrote. “Bus drivers are put in the same position. Passengers get on buses sick with Covid. People have to work and they get on buses, taxis, Uber and Lyft sick. Please keep masks for public transportation. We are in close contact with passengers. Riders will not voluntarily keep masks on once you say that they don’t have to wear them.”

After reading the plea, Ferrer added, “I ask people to consider that perspective as they’re using public transit. From our perspective, it’s a great idea to keep your mask on.”

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