The state will drop its school mask mandate on March 12, though counties can keep stricter mask rules if they want, says California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. LA County says it will let schools decide if they want to drop their mask rules on March 12, though LAUSD has not said whether they’ll do that.
Also starting today, most Californians, even those who aren’t vaccinated, won’t have to wear their masks in most indoor settings. But LA County will keep some of its rules for now.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist and a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco, points out, “The CDC is pretty clear, as of Friday, that we're out of the zone where we need to wear masks, at least by their guidance.”
She says the thing to remember is that if you’re vaccinated or had a natural infection, you’re protected against COVID-19 hospitalizations and death. However, people who are immunocompromised and/or older with comorbidities are not as safe.
“Putting it all together, I think that those who need to mask indoors … would be those who are vulnerable. … And then anyone, if they certainly want to mask inside … you will likely not get exposure to any respiratory pathogen,” she says.
Are you fully vaccinated with two shots or three? “Those over [age] 50 should get a booster. … And then certainly those at risk of severe breakthroughs should get a fourth dose,” Gandhi replies.
When it comes to schools dropping their mask mandates, Gandhi says she agrees with that policy. “Children [ages] 5 to 11 have had the ability to get vaccinated since November 4. And … an NIH study just showed us … 70% of children have antibodies in our country to COVID. So there was a lot of exposure among children, which gives you natural immunity.”
She concludes, “I think this is the end of the stage where the population is asked to shut down, mask, distance, and take measures to slow the spread.”
She explains that’s because we have yet-to-be-approved vaccines that “show us the whole virus if another variant comes,” plus therapeutics.