Thinking of ditching your mask? City health officer provides guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their mask-wearing guidelines this week to loosen requirements for vaccinated individuals. (Illustration by Emma DiMaggio | Signal Tribune)

The State of California is loosening mask mandates to align with new federal guidance that says fully vaccinated people can gather outdoors or dine at an outdoor restaurant without face coverings.

Under new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, people can walk, run, bike or hike outdoors with members of their own household without a mask—regardless of whether they are vaccinated. 

People who are vaccinated can also shed their masks for small outdoor gatherings and outdoor dining from other households. 

“It’s important that everyone [vaccinated or unvaccinated] should continue to wear a well-fitted face covering and take precautions in public indoor settings and in crowded outdoor settings in venues,” City Health Officer Anissa Davis said. 

Today, Mayor Robert Garcia and Davis announced the news at a press conference, urging unvaccinated residents to sign up or walk in to one of many vaccine distribution sites across the city. 

See Related: Looking to get a vaccine this week? Here are five locations in Long Beach offering COVID-19 vaccinations

The City also announced that they’ve nearly doubled the hours of operation for vaccinations at the Long Beach Convention Center site. The site is now open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment is needed to receive a vaccine at the site. 

“We continue to see tremendous growth in our vaccination numbers,” Garcia said in a statement. “By increasing non-appointment availability options and making it even easier to receive the vaccine, we hope to see those numbers go up even more.”

Nearly 60% of Long Beach residents ages 16 and up are vaccinated. As of yesterday, the City had administered 175,694 first doses and 114,900 second doses.

To be considered “fully vaccinated,” a person receiving the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines must be at least 14 days out from their second dose. For the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, residents must be at least 14 or more days out from their first dose.

Garcia noted that walk-ups for vaccines have slowed down recently, but that the City is pivoting to new models—such as mobile vaccine clinics—to ensure hard-to-reach communities are vaccinated. 

He said the City is currently working with the Long Beach Unified School District to set up vaccine clinics at schools so parents and students 16 and up can get vaccinated. 

This clinic infrastructure will also be useful in vaccinating children under 16 once they’re allowed to receive the vaccine. 

Davis urged all residents to avoid medium and large gatherings whether or not they’re vaccinated. 

The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not 100% effective. These vaccinations are highly effective in protecting against severe illness and death, but cannot fully prevent the contraction of COVID-19.

“It would be difficult in public settings to know if others around you have been vaccinated, or if others are at increased risk for severe illness due to COVID-19,” she said. 

Los Angeles County announced yesterday that it too would align with new CDC recommendations. 

City News Service contributed to this report.

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